News last update:6 Aug 2012

India profits from high soybean prices

India, Asia's biggest exporter of soybean meal, may ship record volumes of the animal feed next year after farmers planted more soybeans to benefit from high prices for the commodity and its products.

Soybean meal exports in the year starting November may exceed this year's expected 3.7 million metric tons and last year's record 4 million tons, Rajesh Agrawal, a spokesman for the Soybean Processors' Association of India commented.

Higher Indian exports may pose competition for the U.S. and Latin American suppliers of soybean meal in Japan, South Korea and Thailand. India traditionally exports the soybean product to Southeast Asian countries and may begin shipping to Europe this year if the bloc bans imports of genetically modified crops, Agrawal said. India's soybean meal is biotech-free.

Depends on prices
"More supply is good news for importers like us as we can diversify sources,'' said Kim Chi Young, purchasing team manager at the Korea Feed Association. "Of course, it depends on prices, including freight costs.'' Some Indian traders have sold about 50,000 tons of soybean meal from the new crop at prices ranging from $290 to $295 a ton for delivery in November and December to Southeast Asian countries. The price, including freight costs, compared with between $230 and $235 a ton a year earlier, Agrawal said.

In its latest tender, the Korea Feed Association bought soybean meal from South America for arrival by Oct. 11 at $299 a ton, including freight costs, Kim said.

Increased Acreage
Indian farmers have planted an estimated 7.8 million hectares (19 million acres) of soybeans, 6% more than a year ago, according to the farm ministry. "The crop is in good shape and intermittent rains in recent days will help a good harvest,'' the Processors' Association's Agrawal said.

Soybean meal, India's largest meal export, is added to poultry feed as a form of protein to aid birds' growth. The country usually exports more than 70% of its output, benefiting from low freight costs to Asian markets. India is the second-biggest importer of soybean oil, used mainly for cooking, after China.

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