India’s soymeal exports to soar as drought trims Argentine supply

Soymeal exports from India are increasing sharply as drought has hit output from top exporter Argentina, with 500,000 tonnes likely to be shipped from the South Asian country in February and March combined, three exporters said.

The drop in Argentina’s output has driven up the South American producer’s prices, making Indian soymeal more competitive.

India’s exports in the first four months of the 2022/23 marketing year, which began on Oct. 1, surged 65% to 631,000 tonnes, nearly matching the 644,000 tonnes exported in the whole of the previous year, according to trade body the Soybean Processors Association of India (SOPA).

“Exports have gained momentum and would remain there until at least mid-April,” Hemant Bansal, vice president, oilseed crushing and refining at Patanjali Foods Ltd., told Reuters.

The revival in exports of the animal feed has boosted soybean crushing in India and the availability of soyoil, which could reduce the need for imports of soyoil and palm oil by the world’s biggest buyer in coming months, exporters said.

Bangladesh, Vietnam and Nepal are buying Indian soymeal as it is cheaper than supplies from South America, and they are also saving on freight costs, Bansal said.

Indian soymeal is being offered for around $580 to $585 per tonne on a free-on-board (FOB) basis for March shipments, compared to $598 offered by Argentina, exporters said.

“If global prices sustain at the current level, then India could easily export more than 2 million tonnes in 2022/23,” said an exporter based at Indore in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

That would be more than triple the volume exported in the 2021/22 marketing year.

Its crop numbers are continuously being revised downward, supporting soymeal prices, said the Indore-based exporter, who declined to be named as he is not authorised to speak to media.

Oil mills have increased soybean crushing to fulfil meal export orders, which should reduce import needs in coming months, said a Mumbai-based exporter, who also declined to be named.

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