* India's Dec oilmeal exports down 15 pct from pvs month
* India's April-Dec oilmeal exports down 26 pct on the year (Adds details, table, background)
By Ratnajyoti Dutta
NEW DELHI, Jan 7 (Reuters) - India's soymeal exports dropped by 4.4 percent in December from a month earlier as France cut purchases sharply due to improved prospects of production in Latin America, and local supplies suffered a seasonal fall, a trade body said on Monday.
India, Asia's leading supplier of animal feed, exported 494,456 tonnes of the animal feed in December, compared with 517,103 tonnes in the previous month, industry body the Solvent Extractors' Association of India (SEA) said in a statement.
Supplies from the new season soybean crop started arriving in spot markets in October but arrivals have slowed with the end of the peak crushing season. Soybeans are crushed to produce vegetable oils and meal for animal feed.
"Soybean supply for crushing activities has fallen," said B.V. Mehta, executive director of the Mumbai-based trade body.
Daily soybean supplies in spot markets across India are currently around 300,000 to 350,000 bags of about 100 kg each, down by 150,000 to 250,000 bags from the previous month.
In December, total oilmeal exports from India fell 15 percent to 544,946 tonnes from the previous month.
France slashed imports to only 513 tonnes of soymeal in December, from 157,255 tonnes in November.
"European buyers' demand for Indian soymeal eased last month with an improvement in output prospects from South America," said a trader from the central city of Indore, a soybean hub.
European feed makers usually source their soymeal needs with supplies from Brazil and Argentina, which are closer, but also turn to Indian suppliers in shortages.
A Chinese ban on Indian rapeseed meal and the absence of any fresh deals from sanctions-hit Iran also cut into overall meal exports, Mehta said.
Exports of rapeseed meal dropped about 60 percent to 26,590 tonnes in December with China and Iran drawing blanks on the export account, the SEA data showed.
China banned oilmeal imports from India at the start of this season after finding traces of malachite green, a hazardous chemical.
Deals with Iran have faced problems as western sanctions aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear programme have targeted the revenues of the OPEC nation, making both import and export payments difficult.
India's oilmeal exports in the first nine months of the fiscal year beginning April 1 were at 2.9 million tonnes, down 26 percent from 3.9 million a year earlier, mainly due to the Chinese ban. (Editing by Jo Winterbottom and Clarence Fernandez)