Argentina ships soymeal to France in rare Atlantic arbitrage

Argentina is expected to export a cargo of soybean meal to France in a rare trans-Atlantic move, trade sources have told...

Argentina is expected to export a cargo of soybean meal to France in a rare trans-Atlantic move, trade sources have told Agricensus, that appears to reflect a drop-off in supply from its regular importing origin, Brazil.

The vessel, the N Discovery, is listed in Argentine line-up data as shipping 30,000 mt of corn to France – in what would be an even rarer movement as the export of Argentine corn into the European Union is complicated by the bloc’s anti-GMO stance.

However, local trade sources expect the ship to actually load with soymeal when it reaches the berth at Quebracho, in the Up River hub of San Lorenzo.

While not unprecedented, Agricensus export data shows some 74,000 mt of Argentine soymeal arrived in France in January 2021, it is a rare move with the last cargoes heading into France sailing in 2018.

Volume then totalled 126,103 mt for the full year, according to customs data.

France typically secures between 1.5 million and 2 million mt of soymeal imports from Brazil per year, the data shows, but the volume this year to date stands at just under 544,000 mt, with just under half the year already elapsed.

That suggests export volumes from Brazil have slowed down as the country wrestles with a huge export pull from China that has drained its soybean reserves and led to the imposition of rationing measures on soybean products – such as a temporary reduction of its biodiesel blend mandate.

Argentina, the world’s biggest meal exporter, appears to be picking up some of that market share – although the country’s main Up River export hub faces challenges of its own.

The N Discovery, chartered to Cargill according to Nabsa line up data, was expected to berth at the Quebracho terminal on June 4 but the facility is reporting waiting times of around four days amid rumbling strike action among port workers and low water levels in the river.

According to USDA data, Argentina’s soymeal production is pegged at 31.95 million mt in 2020/21, of which 88.4% is expected to be exported.

For 2021/22 Argentina is forecast to produce 32.73 million mt of soymeal, at an increase of 2.4% on the year, with export forecast to increase by 3.4% on the year, according to USDA data.

Currently, Argentina’s main soymeal export destinations include countries in southeast Asia such as Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia, taking about 30% of shipments, while exports to Europe total about 12%, according to customs data.

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