UPDATE 2-India's soymeal export outlooks differ on monsoon impact
* Soyabean output forecasts differ on monsoon damage
* Deals signed at between $465 and $530 per tonne
* Edible oil imports seen up at 10.8 mln T (Recasts with comments from Adani Wilmar executive)
By Rajendra Jadhav and Siddesh Mayenkar
MUMBAI, Sept 21 (Reuters) - India could export as much as 5 million tonnes of soymeal in the year beginning Oct. 1, 2013, an increase of about 25 percent on the previous year, as Asia's top exporter finds strong demand from Iran and Thailand.
The June-to-September monsoon has poured heavy rains on growing soyabean plants in the key producing states of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, and top executives have taken differing views of the damage they had caused.
India's soymeal exports compete with South American shipments in Asian markets, and 600,000 tonnes of deals have been signed for October to December already, the head of leading soybean processor Ruchi Soya told a conference.
There has been strong demand from Iran, Paul Bloemendal, commercial director at Ruchi Soya said, as Tehran tries to balance its oil sales to India in the face of Western sanctions.
The deals were signed for new season supplies in a wide price band of $465 to $530 per tonne as the rupee currency was fluctuating sharply in the last month.
"There is good demand for soymeal. We have already booked more than 10 percent of total exports," Bloemendal said.
He estimated total exports would be flat at 4.1 million tonnes, but the head of India's leading edible oils importer and refiner, Adani Wilmar, said exports may be 4.5-5 million tonnes.
India's soymeal exports have fallen 9 percent to 3.3 million tonnes in the period from October 2012 to August 2013, hit by lower demand from Vietnam and Indonesia, data compiled by industry body the Soybean Processors Association of India shows.
Adani Wilmar's chief executive, Atul Chaturvedi, also pegged output of soyabean in 2013/14 as high as 13.5-14 million tonnes, up from 12.5 million tonnes in the current year.
"I am bullish on soyabean. Although there was talk of crop damage it was limited," Chaturvedi said at the conference.
He said in 2012/13, crop was arriving late in markets.
"Many farmers didn't bring crops immediately after harvesting, expecting a price rise. Now, those farmers are bringing crop to the market ... I think production for this year is 12.5 million tonnes," he added.
Chaturvedi said that should mean India starts the new crop year on Oct. 1 with carry-forward stocks of 1 million tonnes, compared with virtually none a year ago.
Ruchi Soya executives, however, felt rain damage would contain output at last year's levels, which they said would be 11 million tonnes.
"Monsoon rains were more aggressive in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. It hurt soyabean," said Dinesh Shahra, the managing director of Ruchi Soya.
EDIBLE OIL IMPORTS SEEN UP
Bloemendal said India's edible oil imports in the 2013/14 marketing year starting from Nov. 1 would be 10.8 million tonnes, up from 10.3 million the previous year, with palm oil's share rising to 8.8 million from about 8.5 million this year.
Imports of refined palm oil in 2013/14 could halve to 1.1 million tonnes if India decides to increase the import duty, he added. India will consider an increase to protect its domestic refiners from cheap imports from Indonesia and Malaysia.
India is the world's biggest importer of palm oil. (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav and Siddesh Mayenkar)