The U.S. consumed 66.9 million pounds of refined coconut oil in processing during May, up 4 percent from April and up 16 percent from May 2018. Stocks of refined oil totaled 68.9 million pounds at the end of May, up 2 percent from April and up 15 percent year over year.
Average utilization has been nearly steady over the last four years, while monthly ending stocks have trended notably higher. Coconut oil pricing was elevated in 2016 and even more so in 2017, which depressed import demand. The fall in pricing in 2018 brought an increase in imports that outpaced utilization, leading to a rise in average monthly stocks.
In response, imports have been trending down over the last year, despite the softening in market pricing that began in 2018. In April and May, however, U.S. importers compensated for weak Q1 2019 volumes by importing 37,594 MT of crude coconut oil, up 46 percent from Q1 in just two months, and 54,313 MT of refined oil, 85 percent of Q1’s total volume.
Looking ahead, the level of stocks is likely to weigh on imports for the rest of the year. Cumulative 2019 imports of crude and refined coconut oil were down 23 percent vs. Jan-May 2018 imports and down 18 percent from the three-year average for the period. Five months into 2019, it looks like total coconut oil imports may be around 2017’s volume.
U.S. monthly imports of refined coconut oil vs. monthly stocks
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