Palm Oil Soars on Indonesia Ban in Risk to Global Food Inflation

By BLOOMBERG

Palm oil rallied after top producer Indonesia said it will ban all exports of cooking oil, a move that threatens to worsen global food inflation.

Futures for July delivery rose as much as 6% to 6,738 ringgit ($1,550) a ton in Kuala Lumpur, the highest since March 11. Indonesia said on Friday that the shipment halt will start from April 28 and last until the government deems a domestic shortage resolved.

The move by Indonesia, which accounts for almost 60% of global palm oil supply, adds to a raft of crop protectionism around the world since the war erupted in Ukraine, as governments seek to protect their own food supply with agriculture prices surging. The ban threatens to further stoke global food inflation, which has been accelerating at a rampant pace, and raises the risk of a full-blown hunger crisis.

“The halting of shipments of the cooking oil and its raw material, widely used in products ranging from cakes to cosmetics, could raise costs for packaged food producers globally,” said Avtar Sandu, senior manager of commodities at Phillip Nova.

The surprise move has “left many questions unanswered especially as it comes at a time when other edible oils like sunflower oil supplies are facing issues due to violence in the Black Sea region,” he added.

While limited supply and soaring prices are set to worsen inflation of food items like salad dressing and mayonnaise in wealthy economies like the U.S., developing nations like India are set to feel the worst impacts. Such countries depend on imports of palm oil as a cheaper alternative to more costly soybean, sunflower and canola oil.