Soybean oilseed, soybean oil as well as soybean meal have all attained significant importance in for the Indian economy in the past two decades. Soybean cultivation has risen in the central Indian states where the weather is suitable. It has become the crop of choice for the farmers during the kharif season. Refined soybean oil is now consumed by a large populace in India and has been accepted as important and healthy cooking oil. Non-edible grade or industrial grade soybean oil (usually with high free fatty acid content) has also gained market share in the respective end-uses.
Soybean oilseeds are mainly cultivated in the following states of India – Madhya Pradesh (MP), Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh (AP) [recently split into two states – Telangana, Seemandhra], Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka. Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra account for the major share of soybean production, amounting to about 100 million MT per year.
The following table presents area harvested, production and productivity of soybean in India during the past several years.
SOYBEAN PROCESSING FOR THE PRODUCTION OF OIL, MEAL AND LECITHIN
Since 2014-15, the area harvested under soybean has not changed much, except for the last year, which showed a marginal increase. The soybean oilseed production has fluctuated between 8.5 million MT and about 13 million MT. The soybean productivity in India has fluctuated significantly and has not reached anywhere near 3400 kg/ha achieved by the top producers USA and Brazil.
The following table presents recent estimates of state-wise soybean sowing area, expected yield and estimated production for the kharif 2021 season.
As can be seen from the above numbers, the states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are the largest producers of soybean in India. However, the productivity (yield) in Maharashtra is much higher than that of Madhya Pradesh. Maharashtra also has the highest soybean yield among all the producing states.
According to recent reports [Platts Survey, 20 September 2021], India’s 2021-22 (October – September) soybean harvest is expected to fall by 16.6% (as compared to last year) to 10.8 million MT. Soybean output has been declining due to erratic showers during the sowing season resulting in poor yields.
The following table presents soybean oil production, imports and domestic consumption in India for the past several years.
TYPICAL REFINED SOYBEAN OIL SPECIFICATIONS AND FATTY ACID COMPOSITION
Production of soybean oil in India is quite low as compared to the world leaders like USA. India imports significant quantities of soybean oil (and other vegetable oils, mainly palm oil) to meet the domestic demand. India is topmost importer of soybean oil in the world.
Soybean oil production in India has not increased much in the past five years, but may be said to be inching upwards, with occasional drop. The current year may record the highest production of about 1750000 MT.
The following table presents Indian soybean oil imports for the calendar years 2016 to 2020, along with their value.
TYPICAL SOY MEAL SPECIFICATIONS
[NOTE – HS Code 1507 covers Soybean oil and its fraction, whether or not refined, but not chemically modified.]
There are differences in the import quantities listed in the above two tables, as the import periods are counted differently. The previous table presents the imports during the oil year, October to September; while the above table presents Indian soybean oil imports during calendar years.
The following table presents India’s soybean oilseed production, domestic consumption of soybean oil and meal during the past five years.
TYPICAL SPECIFICATIONS OF LIQUID SOY LECITHIN
The above table presents the Indian soybean value chain in perspective.
The following table lists year-wise exports of soybean oil for the past five years along with the exports for the past six months in the current year.
[NOTE: THESE ARE FINANCIAL YEARS – APRIL TO MARCH]
For most of the months in a year, exports of soybean meal are the highest as compared to other meals.
As can be seen from the above export numbers, soybean meal exports increased steadily in the first three years from 2016-17 to 2018-29 but dipped significantly during the financial year 2019-20; by almost 50% as compared to the previous year. However, during 2020-21, soybean meal exports from India more than doubled to over 1.5 million MT.
The export price realization of soybean meal has increased steadily in the past three years to reach to more than Rs. 37 per kg.
Average monthly prices of soybean meal in US $ / MT (FAS Indian Port), are presented in the following table along with the US $ - Rupee exchange rate.
These numbers clearly indicate that the prices of soybean meal have steadily increased; irrespective of the US$ - Rs. rate. They have more than doubled within a year, from September 2020 to September 2021!
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