Thailand plans to import 30,000 tonnes of crude palm oil from now to end-August to prevent a shortage of cooking oil as unfavourable weather in recent months has cut domestic supply, a senior Agriculture Ministry official said on Friday.
Thailand had authorised total crude palm oil imports of 40,000 tonnes in April after dry weather in a major palm-growing area in the country’s south cut output, but had scrapped the plan a month later after bringing in just 10,000 tonnes as the weather improved and farmers demanded a halt to purchases. But Thailand needs to turn to overseas purchases now as the country’s palm oil stocks have dropped to 130,000 tonnes, from a more normal 200,000 tonnes, Apichart Jongsakul, head of the ministry’s Office of the Agriculture Economy, told reporters.
“Overall domestic crude palm stocks fell below the appropriate level so we need to import from neighbouring countries to prevent a possible shortage,” the official said. Thailand is broadly self-sufficient in palm oil, widely used for cooking and as biodiesel fuel, but the government has allowed limited imports from Malaysia in recent years to make up for a domestic supply shortfall. It bought 30,000 tonnes from Malaysia, the world’s second largest producer of palm oil after Indonesia, early in 2011.
Thailand was forecast to produce around 1.75 million tonnes of palm oil in 2012, up slightly from 1.65 in the previous year, according to Agriculture Ministry data. Around 63 percent of the output is due to be consumed by the food sector and the rest used by the biofuel sector.
Copyright Reuters, 2012