SINGAPORE - India's soybean imports have hit a record high this year and more buying is expected as domestic supplies tighten following lower production last year, two trade sources said on Tuesday.
Traders have signed deals to sell up to 100,000 tonnes of soybeans to India since December, shipping mainly from the African countries of Ethiopia and Benin with which the South Asian nation has concessional import duty agreements.
India's soybean imports have never previously approached 100,000 tonnes, the two sources said.
The deals were signed at $450 to $520 a tonne delivered to Indian ports, a grains broker told Reuters on the sidelines of an international grains event in Singapore. Soybeans in India are quoted at $580 to $600 a tonne.
"Last year people imported beans but volumes were small," the broker said, adding that interest to buy beans has risen since December as the lower domestic crop tightens supplies.
India produced around 8.3 million to 8.5 million tonnes of soybeans at the end of 2017, down from more than 11 million tonnes a year ago.
"It is for the first time ever that India is buying beans in such volumes and imports are expected to continue," Sandeep Bajoria, a leading Mumbai-based edible oil broker said by phone.