As efforts continue to curb rising edible oil prices amid the festive season, the Centre on Monday said Uttar Pradesh has notified the stock limits for edible oils and many other states will follow suit soon.
Food Secretary Sudanshu Pandey on Monday reviewed the status of stock limits for edible oils during a virtual meeting with representatives of various states.
"Around 23 states participated in the meeting. UP has already notified the stock limits for different categories like retailers, wholesalers, bulk consumers, and refiners," Mr Pandey told PTI.
The Uttar Pradesh government has imposed stock limits in the range of 1-25 tonnes for different stakeholders and the same was notified on October 12.
Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana are almost in the final stages of notifying the stock limits for edible oils, he said.
According to Pandey, nine other states/UT have confirmed that they initiated the process of fixing stock limits. The states are Maharashtra, Odisha, Kerala, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Tripura and Chandigarh.
Rest of the states have also initiated the process of fixing the stock limits. After 2018, states are imposing the stock limits on edible oils/oilseeds and that's why it took sometime, Mr Pandey pointed out.
Noting that the meeting was very positive, the secretary said, "We hope that in the next few days, most of the states, taking the sensitivity of consumers into account, will be issuing stock limit orders and enforcing them also".
States themselves understand the importance of the subject and are therefore pursuing it very rigorously, he said.
On how much more edible oil prices are likely to fall once the stock limits are implemented by the states, Mr Pandey said there has already been a Rs 7-8/kg decline in various edible oils in the domestic market. Now, two kharif crops -- soyabean and groundnut -- have come and price reduction is quite significant there also, he added.
"I would not like to be speculative about how much reduction it is going to lead to. We would be very strict in enforcing what has been issued," he said, adding that the market forces will determine the prices.
He stressed that if sufficient stocks are available and get released in the market, then prices will start easing.
Groundnut and soyabean crops are better than last year and that is why prices are coming down. "We are hopeful that they also impact the cooling down of the prices.. we hope that this step, in addition, is going to create a positive reduction scenario," Mr Pandey noted.
According to him, domestic demand for edible oils has been on the rise and consequently the country's edible oil imports in September also rose. This was mainly on account of improved COVID situation, opening up of markets and the hotel industry limping back to normalcy.
On October 8, the Centre directed both consuming and oilseed producing states to impose stock limits to check prices. It had also advised to speed up the process of issuing stock limit notification in all states/UTs before the festive season.
Citing global factors for rise in domestic prices of edible oils, the secretary explained that the global edible oil production fell and the market contracted after the pandemic.
There was demand destruction during the pandemic and many countries reduced their production to avoid any glut. However, a series of steps taken by the government has led to reduction in the difference between international and domestic price in the range of Rs 8-12 per cent for different oils, he said.
The Centre is closely monitoring the prices of edible oils and its availability to the consumers. Various steps have already been taken by the government based on the interaction with all the states and edible oil industry associations.