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Palm oil prices likely to rise as demand for its use in biofuel increases

Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s support for B30, a program that requires biofuels to be made using 30% palm oil from 2020, has been a 'game changer'.

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Kuala Lumpur/ Jakarta: The rally in palm oil prices is set to accelerate as demand for the commodity’s use in biofuel increases at a time when output is falling, according to veteran industry analyst Dorab Mistry.

Benchmark futures could reach 2,700 ringgit a metric ton by March, Mistry, director at Godrej International, said in remarks prepared for delivery at an industry conference in Bali. That would be their highest level in more than two years, and would take the gain from the July low to about 40%.

“Sentiment is red hot,” Mistry said. “With lower production, biodiesel usage has become the spark to ignite the rally.”

Malaysian futures, which set the tone for global prices of the most-used edible oil, capped their biggest monthly advance in four years in October as supply concerns, strong Chinese demand and expectations for a jump in consumption in biodiesel propelled the gauge into a bull market.

The “game changer,” says Mistry, has been Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s support for B30, a program that requires biofuels to be made using 30% palm oil from 2020. Now, the market is in “a great hurry” and has begun the job of rationing supplies by means of higher prices, he said.


Also read: Avoid buying palm oil from Malaysia, Indian processors group tells members


Slowing output in Indonesia, the top producer, will also tighten the market, Mistry said. Dry weather, fewer palm trees being planted in new areas, and a cutback in the use of fertilizers will result in production growth of just 1 million tons, he said. Output in Malaysia, the No. 2 grower, may drop by 1 million tons in the first half of next year, according to Mistry’s early estimate.

There’s little scope for buyers to switch from palm to rival soft oils as output of soyoil and sunflower oil will only rise slightly next year, Mistry said.

In Mistry’s other forecasts:

  • Malaysian stockpiles may total 2.5 million tons by December, down from 3.22 million tons a year earlier.
  • There’s a big opportunity in China, where soybean crushing will drop. It will import less rapeseed oil, and biodiesel demand is significant.
  • India’s edible oil imports may rise to 16.3 million tons in 2019-20 from 15.6 million tons a year earlier. Palm imports may increase to 9.9 million tons in 2019-20 from 9.5 million.
  • Global supply of vegetable oils may rise by 3.5 million tons in 2019-20. Palm oil supply may only increase by 2 million tons, compared with 3.5 million tons a year earlier.-  Bloomberg

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