NEW DELHI, Feb 14 (Reuters) - India's vegetable oil importssoared 27.4 percent from a month earlier to hit an all-time highin January on record purchases of cheap palm oil from southeastAsia, a trade body said on Thursday, despite a hike in importduties mid-month.
India is the world's largest vegetable oils importer, andbuys in around 8-9 million tonnes a year or about half its totalconsumption. Palm oil accounts for about 80 percent of imports.
Malaysia, the world's No. 2 producer of palm oil, madeexports duty-free from Jan. 1 and Indian buying soared until NewDelhi slapped duties on imports mid-month to protect domesticplayers.
India's vegetable oil imports were 1.16 million tonnes lastmonth with palm oil imports surging 13 percent on month to hit arecord of 893,313 tonnes, the Solvent Extractors' Association(SEA) said in a statement.
A Reuters survey had forecast vegetable oil imports wouldrange between 1.1-1.2 million tonnes in January, including893,750 tonnes of palm oil. (Reporting by Ratnajyoti Dutta; Editing by Himani Sarkar)