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EU soybean meal imports slump on tight South American supplies: sources


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New Delhi — EU soybean meal imports have continued their downward spiral since the start of the 2020-21 marketing year (July-June) amid limited supply from its top two suppliers, Argentina and Brazil, market sources said Jan. 12.

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The EU's soybean meal imports fell 8.5% year on year to 9.45 million mt between the start of the 2020-21 marketing year on July 1 and Dec. 31, while raw soybean purchases were 4.5% higher year on year at 7.78 million mt, according to the European Commission report released Jan. 12.

Soybean meal crushers and traders in Brazil and Argentina are facing raw bean supply bottlenecks. While Brazilian soybean farmers have very limited stocks left to sell, Argentinian farmers are reluctant to trade their oilseed inventories due to the government's tough tax and revenue policies, market sources say. Frequent strikes by port workers are not helping exports of Argentinian soybean products either.

As a result, the South American soy crushing industry is operating below capacity due to the shortage of raw beans.

Additionally, Brazil has experienced high domestic demand for soybean meal-based animal feed because of growing beef, pork and poultry demand from Asia, a Brazilian agriculture analyst said. This means average raw beans prices are 30% higher year on year at $12.50-$13.00/bu currently, he said.

Brazil and Argentina -- the world's top two soymeal suppliers -- account for over 85% of EU soybean meal imports on a quarterly basis.

Since the start of the 2020-21 marketing year, Brazilian soybean meal has accounted for 44% of the EU's imports at 4.17 million mt, while Argentina -- the world's top soybean meal supplier -- had a 41% share at 3.86 million mt, the data showed.

Raw soybean imports

The Netherlands remained the EU's top buyer of raw beans, followed by Spain and Denmark, the data showed.

Brazil's market share of EU imports so far in the 2020-21 marketing year was 37% or 2.87 million mt, while the US share was 42.3%, or 3.29 million mt.

Other major soybean suppliers to the EU were Canada, Ukraine and Serbia, the report said.

In the previous marketing year, the EU's soybean meal imports rose 1% year on year to 18.05 million mt, while raw soybean purchases rose 1% to 15.36 million mt, according to the data.

Strong soybean demand from the EU is expected to support futures prices in the coming days, as the region -- one of the top meat producers -- is expected to increase its pork and beef exports to Asia, particularly China, an analyst said.

The EU is the world's largest soybean meal importer and second-largest buyer of raw soybeans.