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January 30, 2001
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Indian quake delays soymeal arrivals

India's devastating earthquake has disrupted soymeal exports and delayed at least one contract of 8,000 tonnes of Indian meals, destined for January shipment for Thailand, traders said on Tuesday.

"On Monday, an Indian soymeal seller informed a European trading firm that they could not deliver the grain to Thailand for January shipment as contracted," a trader at a major trading firm told Reuters.

The trading firm bought 5,000 tonnes of groundnut meal and 3,000 tonnes of soymeal for January shipment to Thailand, trade sources said.

The buyer will have 30 days from the notified day to decide whether they still want the product.

Despite good availability of Indian soymeal in the Southeast Asian market for December through April shipment, Thailand did not buy much before the earthquake, as prices were high.

In December, Indian soymeal prices surged to around $245-$248 C&F Southeast Asia, before declining to around $230-$232 last week, traders said.

"Feedmills were waiting for the price to drop further to around $225," said a trader.

Usually, Thai feedmills buy soymeal mostly from India for shipment for December through March and April, before switching to grain from South American origins for April onwards shipment.

Thailand buys about 300,000 tonnes of soymeal from India annually.

Traders, crushers and feedmills are keeping a close eye on the situation in India and hope that the situation would get back to normal as soon as possible.

"It is still a confusing situation. Nobody here knows for sure what happened in India, but I heard that the ports are not likely to resume business as easily and early as expected," said a Thai trader at a major trading firm.

Another trader said: "I also heard that several roads used to transport soymeal from silos to the seaports are severely damaged, and it might possibly take weeks to rebuild them."

If the situation does not improve, most small and medium-sized Thai feedmills, which have yet to cover their positions for February shipment, are expected to shift to buy locally produced soymeal, traders said.

As a result, the price of soymeal sold in the local market might rise further, traders said.

In the Thai market, local soybean crushers on Tuesday offered to sell imported soymeal at around 11.20 baht per kg, while they offered to sell locally produced soymeal at around 10.75 baht, unchanged from recent weeks.

There was talk in the market on Tuesday that Charoen Pokphand (CP) feedmill had already bought South American origin for May/June shipment at undisclosed prices, one trader said.

On Tuesday, Argentine low-protein soymeal was quoted at $190 per tonne C&F for April/May shipment, while Argentine high-pro was quoted at around $200.

No Indian soymeal has been offered since the earthquake hit India's northwestern state of Gujarat last Friday.


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