India’s edible oil imports may rise to a record 15M tonnes in the current marketing year ending in October as a result of increasing domestic demand, reports the Press Trust of India (PTI) on 21 August.

The country imported 14.61M tonnes of edible oil in 2014-2015 (November-October) and the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) said it was estimating imports of 1.2-1.3M tonnes in the remaining three months of the current oil year.

“So the overall vegetable oil imports will be 15M tonnes in 2015-16,” said SEA executive director B V Mehta.

Domestic demand was expected to rise to 20-21M tonnes.

Mehta also said the duty difference between imports of crude and refined crude vegetable oils should be increased from 7.5% to 15% in order to protect the domestic industry. The current import duty on crude edible oil is 12.5% and that for refined edible oil is 20%.

During the November 2015-July 2016 period, imports of refined/bleached/deodorised (RBD) palm olein increased to 1.984M tonnes compared with 1.098M tonnes in the same period last year. This was expected to rise further in the coming months.

“The alarming increase in imports of RBD palm olein is seriously hurting the domestic refining industry,” Mehta told PTI. “This situation has arisen because the landed cost of RBD olein is currently the same as that of crude palm oil. Due to this, the domestic refining industry is facing a severe crisis of under-utilisation of capacity and is on the verge of closure.”