India’s palm oil demand could remain weak amid extended lockdown
Palm oil imports and freights have been falling since December
India’s palm oil imports are likely to remain weak as the nationwide lockdown is extended through 3 May. Several ports in the country are facing ullage constraints at the shore tanks, due to disruptions in logistics and labor shortage. In spite of the Ramadan celebrations starting on 23 April, which supports demand for edible oils, India has not stepped up on its purchases. Pakistan and Bangladesh have been absorbing more cargoes ahead of the festive season. India’s total palm oil imports for March is likely to be less than 500kt, based on shipment data gathered by Eastport Brokers. April’s total imports is also expected to be around 500kt. The government also tightened restrictions on imports of refined palm oil by shortening the import license validity and requiring a pre-purchase agreement for shipments. (Platts) India previously amended the import status of refined palm oil and olein from “Free” to “Restricted” on 8 January, which led to a subsequent decline in such imports. Tougher import rules and an extended lockdown period could continue restricting India’s appetite for palm oil cargoes, and this is likely to continue weighing on the Straits/India freights.