The Indian government has raised import duties on crude and refined edible oils by 5 percent, to 7.5 and 15 percent, respectively. The notification of the increase was issued last month by the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), with the stated aim to protect the interests of domestic farmers and oil processors.
Nearly all (95 percent) of the olive oil imported to India is sourced from Spain and Italy, while a further 3 percent comes from Greece.
The higher tariffs along with the rise in olive oil prices following the poor olive harvest in Spain and Italy, paint a dire picture for importers as well as consumers who will be facing a significantly higher retail prices.
“Forecasting is tricky but our next consignment is already quoted at 18 per cent more than the last one imported two months ago,” reported Aseem Soni, a director at Cargill Foods India, which owns the Leonardo brand of olive oil, to The Hindu Business Line newspaper.
Concerned about the increasing cost of olive oil due to the devastating olive harvests in Europe, Rajneesh Bhasin, president of the Indian Olive Association (IOA) and managing director of the Borges brand of olive oil, told The Hindu Business Line that olive oil should not be subjected to the revised import duties: “We are requesting the Centre to exempt olive oil. The rationale for the duty hike was to protect Indian farmers. That’s not relevant in the case of olive oil as there’s no local production.”
The domestic consumption of vegetable oils, and especially olive oil is on the rise in India. Imports of vegetable oil rose by 12 percent in 2013-2014, to a record high of 11.82 million tons.