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KUALA LUMPUR - Palm oil inventories at the world's biggest grower Indonesia is expected to shrink by almost half to 2.67 million tonnes by the end of 2021 as a rise in demand is seen outpacing production, the Indonesian Palm Oil Association (GAPKI) said on Wednesday.
That would mark a 45% decline to multi-year lows from 4.87 million tonnes at the end of 2020.
Production in the Southeast Asian nation, which had been curbed by La Nina-induced wet weather conditions last year, is seen rising 4% from 2020 to 49 million tonnes, said Togar Sitanggang, GAPKI vice-chairman at the Virtual Palm and Lauric Oils Price Outlook Conference.
"[COVID-19] vaccine is underway, good results will create better demand," he said.
Togar pegged total palm oil export and domestic demand for the edible oil, used in everything from biscuits to biofuel, to jump 9% from the year before.
Exports are seen rising to 37.6 million tonnes in 2021 from 34 million tonnes last year, while local consumption is also seen higher as biodiesel and oleochemical use rises.
Indonesia had increased export levies to finance its B30 biodiesel programme after the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a collapse in crude oil prices.
The B30 mandate stipulates that diesel in Indonesia contains 30% fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) made out of palm oil. It is seen as key to increasing local consumption of the commodity and support prices.
"With the current market situation and the current rate of the levy... we have enough money until the end of the year (to support the biodiesel programme), however, the government must respond fast to any changes in the market," Togar said.
He forecast Indonesian crude palm oil to trade at $1,000-$1,150 per tonne during the first half of this year.
Benchmark crude palm oil prices in No.2 producer Malaysia is trading at an average of 3,638 ringgit ($883.01) per tonne so far this year. REUTERS