* April-Sept soymeal exports up 6.2 pct
* Total oilmeal exports up 1.2 pct in Apr-Sept (Adds trade body chief’s comments with details)
By Ratnajyoti Dutta
NEW DELHI, Oct 7 (Reuters) - India’s soymeal exports in September fell 5.5 percent from a month earlier to 173,381 tonnes, a leading trade body said, but shipments could rise as new crop starts rolling in from October.
Fresh harvests from this month will raise supplies of soybeans, helping Asia’s leading soymeal exporter boost supplies to buyers such as Iran, Japan and Taiwan.
Soybeans are crushed to produce edible oils and animal feed.
Traders expect improved new season crop would cut local soybean prices and push up overseas sales of soymeal.
The average export price for soymeal was $510 per tonne in September against $520 in August, free on board, data from the Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA) showed on Monday.
Soymeal exports for the first half of this fiscal year from April rose 6.2 percent from a year ago to 873,481 tonnes, the data showed. India’s total oilmeal exports rose 1.2 percent to 1.65 million tonnes during the period.
“The half-yearly imports rose mainly due to the weak value of Indian currency,” said B.V. Mehta, SEA’s executive director.
Weakness in the rupee, which is down about 12 percent against the dollar so far this year, is expected to support exports of the animal feed.
India exported $1.8 billion of oilmeal in the fiscal year that ended in March 2013, when its annual exports of oilmeal fell 14.3 percent to 4.8 million tonnes.
Mehta said Indian soymeal exports lost ground this year in Vietnam where local supplies increased, but overseas sales of the animal feed surged in Iran and Europe.
Iran, the biggest buyer of Indian soymeal since February, imported 518,178 tonnes in the first half of the current fiscal year, a 25 percent jump from a year ago period.
Iran is set to emerge as the biggest buyer of soymeal from India for a second straight year.
Iran’s purchases of food items are excluded from Western sanctions aimed at halting its disputed nuclear programme.
Tehran finds it hard to pay for imports due to the sanctions but India, its second biggest oil client after China, pays in rupees and these can be used by Iran to buy commodities such as rice and soymeal.
Europe’s soymeal imports from India rose to 138,904 tonnes in April-September from 300 tonnes a year ago.
India’s total oilmeal exports in September dropped around 6 percent to 294,830 tonnes from the previous month. (Editing by Nidhi Verma and Keiron Henderson)