NEW DELHI, INDIA — India will allegedly allow the import of up to 1.5 million tonnes of foreign-origin soybean meal at a 16.5% basic custom duty, according to a report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Final approval will be made by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry however there is uncertainty how the import quota will be implemented through Oct. 31.

Despite the uncertainty, the USDA said market sources report that Indian buyers are starting to contract for soybean meal imports from Bangladesh and Vietnam and for transshipments from the United States and other origins.

Soybean meal is India’s most popular animal feed protein source. In January, Indian domestic soybean meal prices started to climb without warnings. Prices have reached unprecedented highs.

The Soyabean Processors Association of India is placing the blame for this year’s soybean meal price spike on excessive speculation and hoarding. High prices are also the result of highly competitive pricing of Indian soybeans and meal.

Higher export volumes drew down domestic supplies, causing price speculation compounded by reports of hoarding in the market. The 2021 southwest monsoon also has been erratic, starting-stalling-restarting and dumping at times very heavy rains in the soybean production states; further fueling speculation about bean yields and meal availability in 2021-22.