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Pakistan soymeal imports soar, with poultry growth

Pakistan is on the verge of becoming a major importer of soymeal, thanks to the country's surging poultry production and the modernisation of its dairy industry, boosting feed demand.

The country's imports of soymeal will hit a record 800,000 tonnes in 2014-15, up 23% year on year, and triple those four seasons before, the US Department of Agriculture bureau in Islamabad said.

Purchases at that level remain well below those of the top importer, the European Union, which purchases 19m-20m tonnes a year, ahead of second-ranked Indonesia, expected to buy-in 3.55m tonnes this season.

However, they would move Pakistan in sight of 10th-ranked Algeria, whose imports have expanded from 850,000 tonnes four years ago to 1.3m tonnes.

Meal needs

The increase reflects the expansion of Pakistan's dairy and protein sectors, especially the poultry industry, which is growing at 10% a year.

"The layer industry is also expanding rapidly as it is able to provide a relatively cheap protein source compared to other sources of protein," the USDA bureau said.

However, poultry feed manufacturers are also finding a ready growth market in dairy, for which production of suitable rations "is increasing at an accelerated pace to meet the demand of the expanding commercial dairy units that rely on high milk yielding animals.

"This has resulted in a shift in demand of soymeal by feed millers from the traditional 5-7% to 10-15%."

Spread of origins

The increased demand for foreign soymeal is driving Pakistani feed mills beyond their typical origin, neighbouring India, whose supplies also suffer from concerns over "a lack of consistency in quality".

Pakistan is likely to import 350,000 tonnes of soymeal from South America in 2014-15, "more than double" the amount this season.

During 2013-14, which ends in September, "there was an import of 160,000 tonnes of soymeal from Argentine, mainly due to increased prices and quality issues of Indian soymeal," the bureau said.

The US, which has "not shown an interest" in the Pakistan market so far, is "likely to become a strong competitor".

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