KARACHI: Pakistan witnessed a sharp increase of 47 per cent in the import of edible oil which hit $4 billion in FY21, a special research report issued by the State Bank of Pakistan said.

“Pakistan’s palm and soybean oil imports stood at $4bn in FY21, rising by 47pc year-on-year, compared to compound average growth of 12.3pc in the last 20 years,” the SBP report said.

While in part this increase stems from rising international commodity prices, the rise in palm and soybean oil imports is not a new phenomenon, the report added.

The combined import of palm and soybean oil have been growing noticeably over the last twenty years, rising to 7.1pc of total imports in FY21 from 3.2pc in FY01, said the report. Currently, palm and soybean oil products are among the top 10 commodities imported by the country.

In terms of value, palm and soybean oil products constitute 90pc of total edible oil and oilseeds imports. “In quantity terms, total imports of oilseeds and its products surpassed 7m metric tonnes in FY21, 87pc of which comprised palm and soybean oil,” said the report. The remaining 13pc compr­ised rapeseed, sunflower, groundnut, copra and other oilseeds and related products.

“During the last 15 years, the local production of edible oil has registered negative average annual growth of 1.2pc, while the demand per capita has increased by 2.3pc, leading to increasing reliance on imports for both edible oil and meals,” said the report.

At the one end, the demand for edible oil and oilseed products has been rising due to increasing population, growing income levels, and the gradual modernisation of livestock industry, particularly poultry. At the other end, local oilseed production has been unable to keep pace with increasing domestic demand for edible oil and oilseed products (including meals for animal feed), the report added.

However, Pakistan’s growing reliance on palm and soybean oil is not out of sync with global consumption patterns of edible oil and meal, which is also dominated by palm oil and soybean oil in the edible oil category, and soybean in the meal category.

Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2022

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