UP cane crushing delay to hit output, exports
Sugar exports are likely to be trimmed to 2.5 million tonnes (MT) in the crop year to September 2008, from earlier estimates of 3.5 MT, because of lower than expected output, a senior trade official said on Thursday. The Indian Sugar Mills Association, an apex body of private sugar producers, said production was expected to reach 30-31 MT, up from last year’s record estimated output of 28.4 MT. But the output will be lower than earlier forecasts of 32-33 MT because of a delay in cane crushing in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, the country’s secondlargest producer. “Raw sugar export will form bulk of our total export which is likely to be 2.5 million tonnes,” Indian Sugar Mills Association president P Rama Babu told a news conference. India, the world’s biggest sugar consumer and the No. 2 producer after Brazil, had exported 1.7 million tonnes last year. Babu said raw sugar exports would form around 65% of the sugar exports this season as refineries in the Middle East have added capacities and were increasingly buying from India to save on freight costs. Sugar refineries in the Middle East were earlier importing raws from Brazil. Indian Sugar Exim Corp, the trading arm of the Indian Sugar Mills Association, has so far contracted to sell 650,000-700,000 tonnes of raws, trade officials said. Indian mills, saddled with huge stocks, have also decided to export the sweetener without profit as part of efforts to trim huge domestic stocks. The country had 11-11.5 MT of sugar on October 1 when the new season began. “We are expecting a closing stock of around 16 MT by the end of the season,” said Indian Sugar Mills Association director general Shanti Lal Jain. India annually consumes about 20 million tonnes. In September, London-based International Sugar Organization had said India would overtake Brazil as the world’s top producer in 2007/08 with an estimated output of 33.15 MT. It had then projected Brazilian sugar production in 2007/08 at 32.38 MT.