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Ukraine war: A wake-up call for India - the world's biggest cooking oil importer


Indonesia, the world's biggest producer of palm oil, announced last week that it would halt exports to stabilise spiking prices at home, which it blamed on the war in Ukraine and the pandemic.

Cooking oil is an integral part of the Indian diet. So much so that India is the world's second-largest consumer and largest importer of vegetable oils. Some 56% of its requirements are imported from more than seven countries.

Indians mainly cook with palm, soybean and sunflower oils. For palm oil, the country imports 90% of its requirement from Indonesia and Malaysia. Nearly half of that comes from Indonesia alone.

If this was not enough, half of India's sunflower oil requirements come from Russia and Ukraine, which account for 80% of global exports. The war in Ukraine is likely to lead to a 25% cut in supplies of sunflower oil in the next fiscal year, according to a report. Palm oil inventories in Malaysia, the second-largest producer, are also tight.

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