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India’s Oilmeal Exports Drop by 6% in April 2024

Overall India’s oilmeal exports in April 2024 were 6% lower compared to the same month last year, industry data shows. The total exports stood at 4.65 lakh tonnes, down from 4.93 lakh tonnes in April 2023.

While soybean meal exports saw an increase, mustard meal exports declined. Oilmeals, the residue left after oil extraction from oilseeds, are a crucial component of livestock feed worldwide.

Soybean Meal Exports Surge Amid Record Harvests

According to the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India, the country harvested a record crop of soybean in the Kharif season last year and mustard in the Rabi season.

This led to higher crushing activities and increased availability of meals for both domestic consumption and exports.

The total oilmeal exports during November-April, the first six months of the marketing year, showed a significant revival in soybean meal exports, jumping from 10.4 lakh tonnes to 16.6 lakh metric tonnes.

Despite the overall decline in oilmeal exports in April, the surge in soybean meal exports is noteworthy. Iran emerged as the largest importer of soybean meal from India, including shipments via Dubai, with a total of 81,240 tonnes.

This increase reflects the global demand for high-protein livestock feed and India’s capacity to meet this demand.

Decline in Mustard Meal and Impact of De-Oiled Rice Bran Ban

In contrast, rapeseed meal exports have dropped by nearly 23% this season, totaling 9.3 lakh tonnes, down from the previous year’s higher exports. The industry body attributed last year’s higher exports to India’s price advantage compared to other supplying countries.

A significant factor in the overall decline of oilmeal exports in April 2024 was the prohibition of de-oiled rice bran exports.

India typically exports about 5 to 6 lakh tonnes of de-oiled rice bran annually, mainly to Vietnam, Thailand, and other Asian countries, establishing itself as a reliable supplier in the international market.

However, the government banned the export of de-oiled rice bran on July 28 last year, citing high domestic fodder prices. This ban was initially set to last until March 31, 2024, but was later extended to July 31, 2024.

The industry body highlighted that the prices of de-oiled rice bran are currently at lower levels and are expected to decline further with increased availability of Distiller’s Dried Grains with Solubles (DDGS).

They have appealed to the government not to extend the export prohibition beyond July.

Mixed Performance in Key Import Markets

India’s oilmeal exports to various countries saw mixed performance in April 2024.

South Korea imported 109,744 tonnes of oilmeals, up from 86,231 tonnes in April 2023, showing a positive trend. However, Vietnam’s imports plummeted to 18,365 tonnes from 100,860 tonnes last year.

Thailand also saw a decrease, importing 40,582 tonnes compared to 68,519 tonnes in April 2023. Bangladesh imported 82,878 tonnes of rapeseed and soybean meal, down from 107,408 tonnes last year.

These variations in import figures reflect the dynamic nature of global trade and the influence of both market demand and India’s export policies.

The prohibition of de-oiled rice bran exports, in particular, has impacted India’s trade relationships with countries that rely on this product for their livestock feed industry.

India’s Oilseed Production and Import Reliance

India is the world’s second-largest consumer and leading importer of vegetable oil, meeting 60% of its needs through imports, primarily from Indonesia and Malaysia. While oilseed production in India has grown over the years, it has not kept pace with the increasing consumption, leading to a continued reliance on imports.

The growth in oilseed production, particularly soybean and mustard, has contributed to increased availability of oilmeals for export. However, the challenges in the international market, such as price competitiveness and export restrictions, continue to influence India’s export performance.

The industry body remains optimistic about the future of India’s oilmeal exports, especially with the potential lifting of the de-oiled rice bran export ban.

They argue that with the current lower prices and increased availability of alternatives like DDGS, the prohibition is no longer necessary. Lifting the ban could help stabilize the domestic market and boost exports.

While India’s oilmeal exports faced a decline in April 2024, the strong performance in soybean meal exports and the potential policy changes provide a mixed but hopeful outlook for the industry.

The balance between domestic needs and international market opportunities will continue to shape India’s oilmeal export strategy.

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