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IndiaIndia acquires 45,000 tonnes of Russian sunflower oil

India has acquired around 45,000 tonnes of Russian sunflower oil at a high price for shipments in April as edible oils have surged in the local markets after supplies from Russia’s rival Ukraine stopped.

Sunflower oil from Russia can further help the world’s largest edible oil importer reduce the shortfall when the vegetable oils’ availability is stretched due to Indonesia’s decision to limit palm oil supplies and lower soybean crops in South America.

Managing director of Gemini Edibles & Fats India Pvt. Ltd, Pradeep Chowdhry, said, “As vessel loading is not possible in Ukraine, buyers are trying to get supplies from Russia.” He has contracted 12,000 tonnes of Russian sunflower oil for April shipments.

Refiners bought crude sunflower oil at a record price of $2,150 a tonne, including cost, insurance, and freight (CIF), in India for shipments in April, compared with $1,630 before Russia invaded Ukraine, said, dealers.

Sunflower oil was earlier cheaper than rival palm oil and soy oil, but as supplies from leading exporter Ukraine stopped, buyers had to pay a significant premium, Chowdhry said.

The Black Sea accounts for a total of 60% of world sun oil output and 76% of exports.

Indian buyers were not making purchases of Russian sunflower oil for about a month. Still, now they are putting orders as banks are opening letters of credit (LC) for the imports, said a New Delhi-based dealer with a global trading firm.

“Indian buyers are expending in dollars. Indian insurance companies provide cover to vessels carrying sun oil from Russia,” the dealer said.

Shipments of around 300,000 tonnes of sunflower oil from Ukraine to India are stuck as loading at Ukrainian ports is discontinued, said a Mumbai-based dealer.

India imports sun oil mainly from Ukraine and Russia. It imports palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia, whereas the majority of soyoil is sourced from Brazil and Argentina.

India is now trying to expand its sunflower oil imports from Argentina, said Sandeep Bajoria, chief executive of Sunvin Group, a vegetable oil brokerage and consultancy firm.

“Even after the imports from Argentina and Russia, there would be a shortfall of sun oil. Nobody can substitute Ukraine’s shipments,” Bajoria said.

India uses around 200,000 tonnes of sunflower oil, but presently, refiners can import approximately 80,000 tonnes only, the New Delhi-based dealer said.

“Sunflower oil is costly. This is pushing price-sensitive buyers to shift to other oils,” Bajoria said

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