24/09/2007 (International Herald Tribune), GOA, India - Palm oil futures in Malaysia may advance as much as 15 percent during the next year because of rising demand and a shortfall in supplies of vegetable oils, Dorab Mistry, a director at Godrej International, said Sunday.
Prices might climb to up to 3,000 ringgit, or $870, a ton in the year ending Sept. 30, 2008, Mistry said during a conference in Goa. Earlier this year, he had predicted that prices would surpass 2,500 ringgit this year. Mistry has traded vegetable oils since 1976.
Vegetable oils are increasingly used in biofuels as crude oil prices have tripled to a record in five years. U.S. farmers have planted more corn to meet demand for ethanol, pushing sowings of soybeans to a 12-year low. Malaysia and Indonesia account for about 90 percent of palm oil output.
Palm oil on the Malaysian Derivatives Exchange, which trades the global benchmark, touched a record 2,764 ringgit on June 6 and has averaged 59 percent more since January than a year ago. The most active contract gained 1.4 percent to 2,606 ringgit on Friday. Soybean oil, palm oil's main competitor, reached a 23-year high of 40.49 cents on Tuesday.
Demand for vegetable oils in the year to September 2008 may rise by 5 million tons, while supply may increase by 3.9 million tons, Mistry said. The incremental demand includes two million tons for biofuels and three million for food purposes, he said.
Not all traders are backing Mistry's price outlook. Palm oil prices may fall as low as 2,250 ringgit by January as output expands, James Fry, managing director at commodity and biofuel researcher LMC International, said at the conference in Goa. That's 14 percent lower than the closing price Friday.
Global palm oil production may rise to a record 41 million tons in the year to September 2008, from a probable 37.38 million tons this year, as crops recover from the dry season in Malaysia and Indonesia, said Thomas Mielke, chief editor of Oil World, a trade publication. He said he expected prices to trade between 2,300 and 2,600 ringgit in the next 12 months.
"Palm oil can partly fill the gap created by insufficient production growth in soybeans, canola and sunflower," he said.
Palm oil is used in cooking, cleaning agents and as a fuel additive.