India’s Dependence on Soybean Products Continues to Expand

By - Monday, November 16, 2015

The most recent issue of USDA Oilseeds Markets and Trade highlights the rapid transition in India from soybean meal exporter to domestic consumer. Although the country was once a significant regional exporter of soybean meal, India is unlikely to regain export market share in the coming year. India’s domestic use of soybean products has been expanding. Historically, the country consumed the oil and exported excess meal. Growth in domestic poultry and egg production has increased the demand for protein meal. Rising demand for soybean meal has coincided with a drop in soybean production, tightening supplies and pushing local prices significantly above world levels.

This has led to a decline in Indian soybean meal exports, particularly to distant markets. Last year, nearly half of the exports went by surface trade to neighboring markets, primarily Bangladesh and Pakistan. Yet these rapidly growing markets are seeking alternative suppliers, purchasing not only more affordable soybean meal but also soybeans. India’s strong domestic use and declining export prospects appear likely to continue into the future, potentially ending its status as a net exporter. These circumstances may provide opportunities for the United States and South America to expand shipments to Asia.

Adding to the above report, USSEC Deputy Regional Director – ASC Dr. P.E. Vijay Anand stated that the human food and the aquaculture industries also depend on soy products as protein sources in addition to the poultry and egg production sectors. Recently, the use of texturized soy products (TSP) and other soy flour variants used in the human food industry has grown significantly. Increasing prices of vegetables and all time high prices of pulses further fuels the growth. Consumers are drawn towards the fact that TSP can be obtained at a quarter of the cost of pulses and with twice the protein content. On the aquaculture front, 15-20 percent growth in the shrimp industry has led to increased feed production and soy consumption. Inconsistent supply and the high cost of fishmeal have also contributed to the increased use of soy meal. The freshwater fish feed industry that relies solely on plant protein sources is another consistent user of soy meal. Soy usage in the feed and food industries will continue and lead to more domestic utilization of India’s soy production.