The industry said it wanted to shore up the availability of edible oils and keep a check on prices and that was possible only if the import duty is lowered heavily at a time of severe supply constraints.
Talking to ET, Pradeep Chowdhry, managing director of South India-based Gemini Edibles & Fats India, said “The South Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka solely depend on sunflower oil for household cooking. The monthly requirement of sunflower oil in these four states is 150,000 tonnes. But with the supply side under pressure due to the Russia-Ukraine war, availability of sunflower oils in South India has come down to 70,000 tonnes per month. We immediately need a second oil to replace sunflower oil and canola oil is the only substitute as these states do not like soyabean oil and mustard oil.”
“Canola harvesting is over now. And if the government reduces the duty, India can import canola oil to meet the demand at home,” said Sandeep Bajoria, CEO of oil consultancy firm Sunvin Group. The duty on canola should be at par with other imported soft oils like soy and sunflower oil at 5.5%, he added.
Shipments of canola oil can come very fast from Dubai, which has large crushing capacity.
Industry executives, who did not want to be named, said that to allay fears of the government on the repercussions of domestic mustard seed oil, the industry has asked the government that imports of canola oils should only be allowed through the South Indian ports of Chennai, Mangalore, Krishnapatnam and Kakinada.
To check rising prices, 5% agriculture cess on crude palm oil should be reduced to nil for immediate relief to consumers, the industry executives said.
Bajoria said the edible oil market has corrected after clarity emerged that Indonesia is not putting a ban on crude palm oil exports. “Prices went up once the Indonesia news came. But prices have softened from that level. If canola oil imports are allowed, then the market will further cool off,” he said.