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Soybean - Commodities Info

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General Characteristics

  • Soybean is an important global crop and processed soybean is the largest source of protein feed and second largest source of vegetable oil in the world.
  • The major portion of the global and domestic crop is solvent-extracted with hexane to yield soy oil and obtain soymeal, which is widely used in the animal feed industry. It is estimated that above 85% of the output is crushed worldwide.
  • Though, a very small proportion of the crop is consumed directly by humans, soybean products appear in a large variety of processed foods.
  • The cultivation of soybean is successful in climates with hot summers, with temperatures between 20°C to 30°C being optimum. Temperatures below 20°C and over 40°C are found to retard growth significantly.
  • It can grow in a wide range of soils, with optimum growth in moist alluvial soils with a good organic content.
  • Modern soybean varieties generally reach a height of around 1 m (3 ft), and take 80-120 days from sowing to harvesting.

Global Scenario

  • The annual global soybean production has been in the range of 210-230 million tonnes in the recent years, accounting for 55-58% of total global oilseed output of around 390-400 million tonnes.
  • US, Brazil, Argentina, China and India are the major producers in order of production with production in these countries ranging around 70-80, 55-60, 32-48, 14-16 and 8-10 million tonnes in the recent couple of years.
  • Weather, acreage under other competitive crops like corn, cotton and pests & diseases are the major factors influencing production.
  • While in US, India and China crop starts arriving from Aug-Sept, it starts from Jan-Feb in S. America.
  • The annual global trade in soybean is estimated to be around 70-80 million tonnes.
  • While, USA (30 -35 million tonnes), Brazil (23-28 million tonnes), Argentina (5-15 million tonnes) are the exporters of beans, China (35-40 million tonnes) and EU (12-16 million tonnes) are the major importers.
  • In addition to soybean, soy oil and soymeal are also widely traded globally with annual trade of around 9 million tonnes and 52 million tonnes respectively. While, US is the largest exporters for soybeans, Argentina is the largest exporter of soy oil and soy meal globally.

Major Tin Markets

  • Chicago Mercantile Exchange, which acquired Chicago Board of Trade - the world's oldest soy futures market
  • Dalian Commodity Exchange - trades the most liquid soybean contracts in the world
  • Argentina and Brazil FOB determine the physical prices

India in World Soy Industry

(Rounded figs.)GlobalIndia% Share
(In million tons)
Soybean Production23094
Soybean Trade7500
Soy Oil Production351.54
Soy Oil Imports9111
Soy Oil Exports900
Soy Meal Production15075
Soy Meal Exports523.57
Soy Meal Imports 5200

Indian Scenario

  • India's annual production of soybean has been around 8.5-10 million tonnes in the recent years with India's production in 2009-10 estimated to be around 8.9 million tonnes by the Government of India.
  • The acreage under this crop has more than doubled in the past two decades to around 11 million hectares currently being sown under this crop, with better returns encouraging more farmers to adopt this new crop.
  • Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh are the major cultivators of this important oilseed, with their respective contributions usually around 60%, 25%, 6-7% and 1-2%.
  • Soybean is exclusively grown in the khariff season in India, with sowing taking place after the first monsoon showers in late June or early July. Sowing can extend upto end of July in different parts of the country.
  • The harvesting commences from September, with Maharashtra reporting the earliest arrivals. October and November are the peak arrival months, with all-India arrivals crossing 10 lakh bags of approximately 90 kg on the peak arrival days.
  • The production is dependent on the monsoon and fluctuates between years.
  • India is highly dependent on imports to meet domestic edible oil requirement. Government policies are in favour of developing the domestic crushing industry and supporting Indian farmers and do not promote import or export of soybean. Thus, there is virtually no import or export of soybeans.
  • However, India out of its total soymeal production of around 6.5-7 million tonnes, exports around 3.5 million tonnes with Vietnam, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, UAE, Greece being the major importers.

Market Influencing Factors

  • Domestic prices are highly influenced by the global price movements, with prices highly correlated with the CME prices.
  • Fundamentally, weather at all producing centers, domestic and international is the most crucial factor, with the pod bearing period, being the most crucial.
  • United States Department of Agriculture makes progressive assessment of crops, stocks, global supply and demand and releases regular reports, which are widely looked upon by the global market to determine prices.
  • The other major influencing factor is the prices of soy oil and soymeal, which are in-turn dependent on the fundamentals of global edible oil and global animal feed industry.
  • Locally, prices are influenced by currency fluctuations, weather, acreage, pest & diseases, production estimates by industry associations, Government agencies.
  • India imports more than 60% of its entire edible oil requirement and the entire edible oilseed and oil sector is a highly sensitive sector. Thus, new Government policies and apprehensions about new policies have a strong sway over prices, during periods when new announcements are made or are about to be made.
  • The supply-demand and price scenario of competitive oils, viz., palmoil.
  • The crush margin between meal, oil and seed

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