Edible oil import bill may swell by 30pc this year

Published September 25, 2021
A woman lifts a box of ghee from a supermarket. — Dawn/File
A woman lifts a box of ghee from a supermarket. — Dawn/File

LAHORE: Pakistan’s edible oil import bill is likely to increase significantly in the financial year 2021-22 as compared to last year amid a fall in local production, hike in global prices and rise in local consumption, industry representatives say.

“The edible oil import bill is set to go up by 30 per cent in the ongoing financial year due to rising prices in the global markets and opening of Afghan trade,” suggests Arif Qasim, a businessman dealing in edible oil and vanaspati ghee.

Market analysts anticipate the country’s edible oil imports to be a record 3.7 million tonnes, up 5pc from 3.5MT of the previous year, as Pakistan’s per capita cooking oil consumption is 24 kilograms, the highest in the world.

The five-year import data shows that year-on-year there has been an average increase of 10pc in the edible oil import bill since 2015-16.

Mr Qasim puts the total local consumption of edible oil and ghee at 4.5MT and believes it will shoot up by 0.5MT due to opening of the Afghan trade. This hike in consumption comes at a time when local oilseed production went down by 19pc in 2020-21 — mainly because of a drastically low cotton output.

Palm oil had been trading at around $750 per tonne in 2020 in the internatio­nal markets but the prices began soaring up in January and till November its rate is likely to be $1,200 per tonne, he claims.

Palm oil constitutes 80pc of Pakistan’s imports and the rest is soybean and olive oil. Around 75pc of palm oil is imported from Malaysia and Indonesia, and soybean oil from the US and Brazil.

Pakistan Edible Oil Refiners Associa­tion chairman Rasheed Jan Muhammad sees a 20pc surge in the import of oilseed too this year. The country has already imported 2.73MT of oilseeds since Janu­ary and has contracted another 0.8MT for shipment from September to December, as the oilseed import is likely to set a record of 3.5MT.

Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2021

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