ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN — Pakistan’s transition to becoming a significant soybean importer continues as a record 2 million tonnes of imports are forecast for the 2017-18 crop year, according to an Aug. 3 Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The country’s soybean import total is forecast to surge to 2.5 million tonnes in 2018-19, the USDA said.

“Higher imports are a reflection of a tariff structure that favors soybeans over soybean meal and growing demand from Pakistan’s feed sector,” the USDA said.

Soybean meal imports have dropped drastically with just 100 tonnes of imports through the first eight months of the 2017-18 crop year, far below the 385,000 tonnes of imports during the same period the previous year, the report said.

“The development and modernization of Pakistan’s poultry and dairy sectors is generating new demand for high-protein feed ingredients as inclusion of soybean meal in rations increase and overall demand rises,” the USDA said.

The report also noted that total oilseeds imports are expected to exceed edible oil imports for the first time in Pakistan’s history.

Rapeseed imports are forecast to reach 1.2 million tonnes in 2017-18, up from 1.18 million tonnes the previous year.