MUMBAI (Reuters) – India’s vegetable oil imports are likely to surge from June onwards as New Delhi eases coronavirus curbs, the head of a trading body said on Monday.

The south Asian country is the world’s biggest importer of edible oils and higher purchases could support Malaysian palm oil prices.

India could import 1.14 million tonnes of vegetable oils in June, up from an average of 865,000 tonnes during April-May, said Sudhakar Desai, president of the Indian Vegetable Oils Producers’ Association (IVPA).

“Vegetable oil import needs could be 1.3 to 1.4 million tonnes per month during the July to September period,” Desai said after a webinar with industry officials.

India extended its lockdown until June 30 in high-risk zones but permitted restaurants, malls and religious buildings to reopen elsewhere from June 8 despite a record high number of cases detected nationwide on Saturday.

India buys palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia and other oils, such as soyoil and sunflower oil, from Argentina, Brazil, Ukraine and Russia.

The country’s edible oil consumption could drop by nearly 7% to 21.7 million tonnes in the 2019/20 marketing year ending Oct. 31 as demand was squeezed during the lockdown, Desai said.

(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; editing by Nick Macfie)