Pakistan palm oil import to pick up in April


ISLAMABAD – Pakistan may import up to 150,000 tonnes of palm oil in April because of less carry over stock, but buying will slow down during the peak summer months of May and June, a top industry official said.
Pakistan, the world’s fourth-largest buyer of vegetable oil, bought less in February because of heavy imports in the preceding months, but buying picked up in March, with 110,400 tonnes purchased from Malaysia between March 1-25.
“Pakistan’s palm oil imports may touch between 140,000 and 150,000 tonnes in April because there was less carry over,” said Rasheed Janmohammad, vice chairman of the Pakistan Edible Oil Refiners Association.
“But it will be a little slow in May, June – about 100,000 tonnes each – as demand falls because people consume less cooked products in summer.”
Pakistan imports a mix of refined and crude palm oil, mainly from Malaysia, but also from Indonesia, the world biggest producers.
It consumes about 3 million tonnes of edible oil a year, but produces only 500,000-800,000 tonnes of cottonseed, rapeseed and sunflower, relying on imports to meet about 80 percent of demand.
Traders say lower palm oil prices, due to expectation of higher growth in Malaysia and lacklustre import demand, have hurt buyers back home who earlier bought at higher prices.
Malaysian palm oil futures rose on Friday for the first time in three days on a technical correction, after expectations of higher output pressured it to hit a four-month low of 3,163 ringgit ($1,044.58) a tonne the previous day.
Janmohammad expected current palm oil prices to remain steady during summer.
“This is a natural cycle as production months start in March in Malaysia and exports also slow down in early summer,” he said.
External factors, such as high crude oil prices because of the Middle East conflict, would also likely support the market at the present level, Janmohammad said.
“When the crude remains on such a level, no markets can fall much … It (the market) has a good potential to sustain, rather than go down or go up.”