JAKARTA, INDONESIA — A new soybean subsidy program launched in April slowed down Indonesia’s purchases in 2021-22, lowering import estimates, according to a report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Imports now are estimated at 2.68 million tonnes. Between October 2021 and May 2022, imports were 13% lower than the same period a year earlier.

“Both higher prices and increased shipment costs have affected demand and exports to Indonesia,” the USDA said.

Imports for 2022-23 are estimated at 2.8 million tonnes with continued demand from the soy-based food industry.

Soybean production for 2022-23 is unchanged at 400,000 tonnes, but is down 25,000 tonnes from 2021-22 due to unfavorable weather and farmers preference to plant rice and corn over soy.

Feed mill demand for soybean meal continues to drive imports from South American origins. Meal consumption for 2022-23 is estimated at 5.4 million tonnes, an increase from 5.35 million tonnes in 2021-22.

Soybean meal prices have increased to more than $526 per tonne, 9% higher than the average price in 2021 of $481 per tonne, the USDA said.

“Higher raw material costs put pressure on feed industry profitability during the first eight months of 2021-22,” the USDA said.

Soybean meal imports are projected to increase 2% from the previous year to 5.4 million tonnes on expected higher demand from the feed mill industry.