MUMBAI, June 4 ― India's palm oil imports rose by 12.4 per cent in May from the previous month to reach the highest level in four months as the recent correction in prices led to higher purchases, five dealers told Reuters.

Higher palm oil purchases by India, the world's biggest importer of vegetable oils, could support the benchmark Malaysian palm oil futures that fell to their lowest level in more than three months in May.

Palm oil imports in May jumped to 769,000 metric tonnes, the highest since January, according to estimates from dealers.

Palm oil imports jumped last month as higher margins prompted traders to increase refined palm oil purchases, rising to 214,000 tonnes from 124,228 tonnes the previous month, said Rajesh Patel, managing partner at edible oil trader and broker GGN Research.

Crude palm oil's (CPO) imports are offered at about US$948 (RM4,451) a metric tonne, including cost, insurance and freight (CIF), in India for July delivery, while soyoil and sunflower oil are offered around US$1,028 and US$1,035 a tonne, respectively, dealers said.

Two months ago, CPO was commanding a premium over the rival oils.

Palm oil imports would remain robust even in June and around 750,000 tons is likely to land in the country, said Sandeep Bajoria, CEO of Sunvin Group, a vegetable oil brokerage.

Industry body Solvent Extractors' Association of India (SEA) is likely to publish its data on May imports by mid-June.

India's sunflower oil imports in May jumped 74 per cent from a month earlier to 408,000 tonnes, as a few vessels whose berthing was delayed in April due to port congestion landed in May, dealers said.

Soyoil imports fell 16.5 per cent in May to 322,000 tonnes, dealers said.

Higher imports of palm oil and sunflower oil lifted the country's edible oil imports by 15 per cent to 1.5 million tonnes, they said.

India buys palm oil mainly from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, while it imports soyoil and sunflower oil from Argentina, Brazil, Russia and Ukraine. ― Reuters