KUALA LUMPUR: Despite the sharp decline in crude palm oil (CPO) prices over the past three weeks, international palm oil expert Thomas Mielke foresees palm oil prices to rebound in the near term.
Speaking at a webinar organised by UOB Kay Hian (UOBKH) Research, Mielke who is ISTA Mielke GmbH (Oil World) executive director, said he expects CPO prices to recover and “the recent 30% correction in palm oil prices is not justifiable given the tight supply.”
At the current prices, he said demand for palm oil is returning together with better demand from the biofuel segment.
“The slump in CPO prices over the past three weeks had been overly reacted,” he said.
As such, he expects CPO prices to rebound, supported by tight supply, pent-up demand from the consumption countries with current low inventory, attractive pricing as well as additional biofuel demand.
However, he expects prices to be lower in 2022 and 2023 on the back of a stronger supply but will still be at a supportive level as conventional demand is returning from both the food and fuel sectors.
UOBKH Research has also kept its CPO price assumptions at RM5,200 per tonne for 2022 and RM4,000 per tonne for 2023, respectively.
“Despite our expectation of a CPO downtrend in the second half of this year, we reckon that CPO prices would still remain high, supported by the slow exports from Indonesia and the tight vegetable oil situation in 2022.
“Mielke expects the production of 17 oils and fats to increase by 2.9% year-on-year (y-o-y) for 2022 and 2023, where palm oil production is expected to accelerate by 3.9% y-o-y for 2022 and 2023.
“On top of that, Mielke also expects soybean surplus and canola/rapeseed to recover in 2022 or 2023 under the assumption of normal weather,” it added.
UOBKH Research also cited Milke as saying that lower agri-commodity prices in 2022 and 2023 could lead to higher vegetable oil demand.
“With the expectations of lower global agri commodity prices, Mielke expects the demand for 17 oils and fats to increase by at least six million tonnes globally.
“He highlighted that there is a potential increase in edible oil consumption by four to five million tonnes worldwide mainly attributed to the more affordable pricing,” it said.
Given the widening palm oil-gas oil discount, Mielke also foresees additional demand for the biofuel segment.
UOBKH Research said the discretionary demand for biofuel would easily increase by 1.5 million to two million tonnes due to price competitiveness against crude oil prices.
Meanwhile, Maybank IB Research said the fall in CPO prices would be disruptive to businesses as “there is a rising risk of default by buyers”.
The research house added that there is a risk of buyers deferring some shipments of higher priced palm oil locked in earlier.
On a positive note, it said the current CPO average selling price is still above the industry’s average operating cost of production estimated for financial year 2022 at less than RM2,500 per tonne.
However, Maybank IB Research described the situation in Indonesia as “worrisome” due to the recent sharp decline in domestic CPO price hitting a two-year low.
“The last quoted price of RM2,374 per tonne is 40% below the price at the start of the year in Indonesia, and at RM2,421 per tonne discount to Malaysian CPO price.
“But we reckon this is temporary as domestic price should recover quickly as soon as Indonesia’s stockpile normalises,” it explained.
With the current global CPO price of above RM4,000 per tonne, Maybank IB Research said Malaysia-based growers would be able to make “good margins” compared to Indonesia-based growers that are hurt by the burdensome export taxes and slow issuance of export permits.
The research house is keeping a “neutral” call on the regional plantation sector.