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MUMBAI: India’s soymeal exports could more than double in the 2022/23 marketing year, as drought in top exporter Argentina lifted global prices, prompting buyers to turn to the south Asian country with cheaper rates, four industry officials told Reuters.

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

Oil mills have contracted to export around 160,000 tonnes of soymeal for January shipments and another 100,000 tonnes for February shipments, mostly to Asian countries such as Vietnam, Bangladesh, Japan and Nepal, the officials said.

“Exports demand for Indian soymeal has been improving since it is cheaper than supplies from Argentina,” Hemant Bansal, vice president, oilseed crushing and refining at Patanjali Foods Ltd told Reuters. “Asian buyers are saving on freight as well due to the proximity.”

Bansal estimated India’s soymeal exports in the current marketing year could rise to 1.5-2 million tonnes, from 644,000 tonnes a year ago.

Soymeal prices rose in the world market as Argentina’s soybean production was forecast to fall to 41 million tonnes in 2022/23 due to drought, from 48 million tonnes previously estimated.

India’s soymeal exports in the first three months of the 2022/23 marketing year, which started on Oct. 1, jumped 223% to 325,409 tonnes, according to trade body the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India.

Soybean crush margins have improved due to recovery in soymeal exports, but the correction in soyoil prices in the past few days is threatening to wipe out the margins, said Manoj Agrawal, an exporter.

Soyoil and palm oil imports were seen declining in the coming months with improvement in local supplies, a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trade house said.

Edible oil availability has improved because of higher imports in the December quarter and as soyoil supplies are rising from domestic soybean crushing, he added.

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