New Delhi — The US soybean monthly crush plunged to an 17-month low in February due to the country's cold snap, market sources told S&P Global Platts March 16.
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Most of the US crushing sites were closed in mid-February as consumer demand for natural gas feedstocks spiked amid the severe weather, the sources said.
The National Oilseed Processors Association, or NOPA, reported March 15 that the February crush stood at 155.158 million bushels, down 6% year on year and well below the average of analysts' estimates at 168.61 million bushels.
US soybean oil stocks were also reported at 10% lower on the year at 1.757 billion pounds in February, NOPA said. The average of analysts' estimates was 1.839 billion pounds.
Lower-than-expected February crushing volumes are expected to temporarily ease pressure on US oilseed ending stocks, which are forecast at a 7-year low of 120 million bushels for
the 2020-21 marketing year (September-August), and thus pressure US soybean futures prices in the short term, analysts said.
The Chicago Board of Trade's May soybean futures were trading at $14.2038/bu at 0514 GMT March 16, up 7 cents day on day.
Analysts said that as the lower-than-expected February crush volume could be attributed more to the winter freeze than supply-demand fundamentals, they expect US soybean crushing to spike in March as domestic demand for the soybean complex remains robust.
Demand for soybean meal has been boosted by the US meat processing industry, which uses it as animal feed. Soybean oil demand as a feedstock has also seen a pickup due to rising biodiesel purchases.
Domestic demand for US soybean meal and oil is rising rapidly on thriving meat exports and stable crude oil usage, the US Department of Agriculture said earlier. As a result, higher prices of soybean meal and oil are enticing crushers to process more volumes, it added.
The monthly NOPA crush report reflects the activity of 13 of the largest soybean processors in the US, which account for 95% of the country's soybean crush.