Soyabean prices have started softening after the Government allowed additional imports of 5.5 lakh tonnes of genetically modified (GM) soyameal last week to help the poultry sector tide over high feed costs.

Prices of soyabean and soyameal have eased by around 7-8 per cent over the past week and the trade expects market arrivals to improve in coming months, which may provide a fillip to the sluggish crushing.

Trade sources said soyabean prices have come down by  ₹500-600 per quintal over the past week across various mandis in Madhya Pradesh such as Dewas, Vidisha, and Khandwa among others. According to the Agmarknet data, the modal price or rate at which most trades took place ruled at ₹7,100 per quintal in Vidisha on April 28, before the import announcement. It has now dropped to  ₹6,500. Similarly in Dewas, the modal price has declined from  ₹7,425 to  ₹6,850 per quintal. In Maharashtra, the modal price ranged between  ₹6,100 and ₹7,005 per quintal across various mandis on Thursday, lower than the previous week.

Meal prices

Following the softening trend in soyabean prices, soyameal prices have also eased. The ex-factory prices of fair average quality soyameal in Indore have come down to around  ₹52,000-53,000 per tonne against around  ₹57,000-58,000 levels last week. Soyameal prices had topped the ₹1 lakh mark last year, while soyabean prices had touched a record  ₹10,000 per quintal in August.

“Prices of soyabean have come down by ₹5,000-6,000 per tonne in the past week. Farmers still have a lot of stock. They will wait for some time to see whether prices can go up further. If prices don’t go up sharply, then in June we will have lot of arrivals and that may lead to further fall in prices,” said DN Pathak, Executive Director, Soyabean Processors Association of India (SOPA) .

The soyabean crushing, which has been progressing at a sluggish pace due to higher bean prices, may pick up if the market arrivals improve in the coming months. “Crushing may pick up if the poultry industry does not import too much and start lifting the soyameal,” Pathak said.

Following the easing trend, the parity between the overseas and domestic prices is expected to narrow down, sources said.

The Union government has allowed importers to bring in shipments of GM soyameal before September 30. In August last year, the government had relaxed rules to import 1.2 million tonnes of GM soyameal.

Arrivals down

According to data compiled by SOPA, market arrivals of soyabean from October till March during the current oil year 2021-22 were down 18 per cent at 61 lakh tonnes (lt) against 74.75 lt in the same period a year ago. As per the Agriculture Ministry’s second advance estimates, soyabean production in the current season to June is pegged at 131.2 lt. Monthly market arrivals which stood at around 15 lt in October 2021, when the crop was harvested, have dropped gradually to around 6 lt in March 2022, as farmers held back their produce anticipating higher prices.

As a result of reduced arrivals, the crushing during October-March 2021-22 was down 35 per cent at 40.40 lt against 62.50 lt in the same period last year. Soyameal production stood lower at 32.33 lt ( 49.89 lt), while imports during the period stood at 4.40 lt.

Despite lower crushing, the offtake from the feed sector during October-March dropped to 28.50 lt ( 29.25 lt) as feed makers looked at alternatives such as rice and wheat broken. Soyameal along with maize is a key ingredient in animal feed.