A drop in India’s demand for vegetable oil is expected in the coming months due to the country’s second COVID-19 wave, AgriCensus reported on 7 May.

However, demand for soft oils – mainly consumed by households – was expected to be less impacted, according to the report.

“Palm oil import demand is expected to slow down sharply in May and June as refiners stall buying due to lockdowns as the country tries to mitigate the devastating impact of Covid-19 infections,” Palm Oil Analytics owner and co-founder Sathia Varqa told AgriCensus.

Preliminary import data for April recorded total edible oil imports at 1.1M tonnes, of which 756,000 tonnes was palm oil, according to Mumbai-based vegetable oil broker Sunvin Group, with a decline in volumes expected over the next two months.

Total inventories were reported at just below 1.69M tonnes on 1 April, according to data from the Solvent Manufacturers Association of India (SEA), with that figure likely to shrink further in May due to falling imports.

However, Indian palm oil imports were expected to rebound from July due to an anticipated increase in shipments from Malaysia, the report said.

Meanwhile, there had been a sharp decline in sunflower oil imports due to tight supply from the Black Sea leading to rising prices, which in turn had caused buyers to switch to more affordable edible oils, AgriCensus wrote.

Indian imports of Ukrainian sunflower oil had dropped by almost 34% in April – at 212,680 tonnes – compared to the previous month, according to Sunvin Group data, the report said.