KARACHI - Domestic production of edible oil is decreasing foreign exchange spending on imports but its pace is not satisfactory, an industry official said Sunday.

Edible oil demand is rising by three per cent per annum which is draining forex reserves that call for increased availability of domestic and imported oilseeds, new edible oil refineries, and better functioning of oilseed extraction industry, said Atif Ikram Sheikh, newly elected Chairman Pakistan Vanaspati Manufacturers Association (PVMA).

In his first meeting with the stakeholders after being elected uncontested, he said that we should strive to deliver better products on affordable rates and make Pakistan self-sufficient in edible oil production through offering full cooperation to the government.

He also asked the Government to pay attention to this critical industry to create employment opportunities, gain revenue and save over $2 billion per annum. 

Atif Ikram Sheikh informed that Pakistan imported 2.2 million tonnes edible from January to December 31, 2013; sixty per cent was imported from Malaysia, while remaining from Indonesia, he said adding that imported oil was meeting around 65 per cent demand of the consumers which must be tackled.

The total demand for the edible oil in the Pakistan currently stands at around 3.2 million tonnes of which 1.44 million tonnes palm oil products worth $1.34 billion are imported from Malaysia, making Pakistan the fifth largest exports destination for the Malaysian palm oil. Pakistan is also importing edible oil from Indonesia.