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Friday, June 18, 2021

‘Concerned’ as edible oil prices soar to 11-year high, government takes stock

The increase in prices of cooking oils comes in a midst of a pandemic and lockdowns in different states that have hit economic activities.

Written by Harikishan Sharma | New Delhi |
Updated: May 26, 2021 7:49:57 am
On Monday, the Department of Food & Public Distribution held a meeting with all stakeholders and asked states and businesses to take all possible steps to bring down prices of edible oils.

The monthly average retail prices of packed edible oils – groundnut, mustard, vanaspati, soya, sunflower and palm oils – have soared this month to their highest levels in over a decade, according to official data.

The increase in prices of cooking oils comes in a midst of a pandemic and lockdowns in different states that have hit economic activities.

On Monday, the Department of Food & Public Distribution held a meeting with all stakeholders and asked states and businesses to take all possible steps to bring down prices of edible oils.

“The need to hold the meeting was also felt because Centre got concerned about more than proportionate rise in the prices of edible oil in India as compared with the rise in international prices of edible oil during the last few months,” the statement said.

Domestic edible oil prices usually mirror international prices since 60 per cent of India’s demand is met through imports.

The price of crude palm oil at the Bursa Malaysia derivatives exchange was quoted at 3,890 ringgit per tonne on May 25 compared to 2,281 ringgit a year ago. Soyabean prices at the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) are also ruling at a much higher level. At CBOT, the closing price of soyabean for July was at US $559.51 per tonne on May 24, as against US $306.16 at this time last year.

Data supplied by the State Civil Supplies Departments and available on the website of the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, show that all-India monthly average retail prices of six edible oils have reached their highest levels since January 2010.

The data, accessed on Tuesday, show that the monthly average retail price of mustard oil (packed), a common cooking oil, reached an all-time of Rs 164.44 a kg in May this year — 39 per cent higher than in May last year (Rs 118.25). In April this year, the price of the oil stood at Rs 155.39 per kg. The oil was the cheapest in May 2010, when the figure stood at Rs 63.05 a kg.

Palm oil, consumed widely across Indian households, has registered an even sharper increase. The monthly average retail price of palm oil (packed) stands at Rs 131.69 per kg for May this year – the highest in the last 11 years — and 49 per cent higher when compared to the corresponding month last year, when the price stood at Rs 88.27 per kg. The lowest monthly average retail price of palm oil was also recorded in April 2010, 11 years ago, when the figure stood at Rs 49.13 per kg.

The monthly average retail prices of four other edible oils –groundnut (Rs 175.55 per kg), vanaspati (Rs 128.7 per kg), soya (Rs 148.27 per kg) and sunflower (Rs 169.54 per kg) –also reached their highest levels in May this year, an increase in the range of 19-52 per cent over last year.

In the 2019-20 oil year (November-October), India’s domestic vegetable oil production was estimated at just over 8.5 million tonnes, while imports stood at 13.5 mt. Oils imported include palm (7 mt), soyabean (3.5 mt) and sunflower (2.5 mt).

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