India sees robust export demand for its soya meal; non-GM soya exports to the US command a premium

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The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has reduced India’s soyabean crop estimate to 90 lakh tonnes versus earlier estimate of 114 lakh tonnes. Lowering of India’s soya bean production estimate by nearly 20 per cent had added fuel to the bullish sentiments and a bullish year for soya bean is expected during the greater part of 2021. 

Indian soya bean meal exports have touched around 6-7 lakh tonnes until December 2020 and is likely to cross around 12-14 lakh tonnes in the 2020-21 (October-September) season. There has been been a robust demand for Indian soya bean meal.

Soybean meal export prices are attractive at around $520 per tonne and Rs 36,300 per tonne, industry officials said. Typically, price of the Indian soya meal variety is higher than the international ones, but this year India has an advantage in exporting more as the recent global rally in soybean prices has made Indian soya meal competitive.

In November 2020, India’s soya meal exports surged 144 per cent year-on-year to 200,000 tonnes due to a revival in demand, led by opening up of economies across the globe, observed Soyabean Processors Association of India (SOPA).

Significantly, the US has turned out to be India’s biggest soya meal buyer. Soya meal exports to the US increased 19.5 per cent in the first half of the current fiscal year to 1.31 lakh tonnes against 1.10 lakh tonnes during the year-ago period. Overall, oil meal exports to the US recorded highest growth among importing nations.

Among other countries, Taiwan and Vietnam registered 15.17  per cent and 14.26  per cent increase, respectively, in Indian oilmeal imports during the period. Soya meal export growth was a meagre 0.11  per cent or 11,000 tonnes in the first half of the fiscal year compared to 6 per cent growth in overall oilmeal shipments.

According to BV Mehta, executive director, Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA), Indian soya meal is given priority in the US since it needs non-GM soybean. “Barely 5 per cent of the soya bean crop in the US is non-GM and those who want non-GM soy products there have to pay a premium. That’s the reason way the Indian soya meal is competitive,” he said.

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