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Soyabean crushing in Argentina dropped to its lowest level in 19 years in 2023, according to data from the country’s Rosario grains exchange (BCR) reported by AgriCensus.

Argentina's soyabean crushing dropped 29% in 2023 to 27M tonnes – its lowest level since 2004, the 23 January report said. In 2022, the country’s crushing volume totalled 38M tonnes.

Last year, Argentine soyabean production fell 56% year-on-year due to its worse drought in more than 60 years. The local vegetable oil industry was impacted although imported soyabeans had limited losses, the BCR said.

In 2023, more than 36% of crushing in Argentina – a new record – comprised soyabeans imported through a temporary import programme. Under this system, soyabeans were imported for industrial processing and other products with a higher added value for export, such as soyabean oil, soyabean meal, biodiesel and glycerine.

“Soyabean imports made it possible to reduce the idle capacity of the vegetable oil industry while helping to sustain the level of employment and support national exports,” the BCR was quoted as saying.

Last year’s recorded idle capacity of 54% was the highest in the history of Argentina’s vegetable oil industry, but the figure would have jumped to around 70% without imports, the exchange added.

Brazil increased its share in Argentina’s soyabean imports from 9% in 2022 to 39% in 2023.

Soyabeans imported from Paraguay, Argentina’s most frequent supplier, were also at record levels, according to the exchange.

For 2023/24, the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agriculture Service report on 15 January is forecasting a crushing total of 40M tonnes; and soyabean production of 50.5M tonnes, a 150% increase from the previous season’s low of 20.5M tonnes. as the country recovers from last season’s drought.