By Mayank Bhardwaj
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India is unlikely to export sugar in 2023-24 season as output will be less than a year earlier, Kona Haque, head of research at ED&F Man Commodities said on Thursday.
Nearly a month ago government sources told Reuters that India is expected to ban mills from exporting sugar in the next season beginning October, halting shipments for the first time in seven years after lack of rain cut cane yields.
India’s absence from the world market would be likely to increase benchmark prices in New York and London that are already trading around multi-year highs, triggering fears of further inflation on global food markets.
“India’s sugar production in the next season will be smaller than last year. And India is unlikely to export next year,” Haque said on the sidelines of a conference in New Delhi.
India allowed mills to export only 6.1 million tonnes of sugar during the current season to Sept. 30, nearly half of the record 11.1 million tonnes sold last season.
The country is likely to receive an average amount of rainfall in September, after the driest August in more than a century. Although September rains would help the sugarcane crop, yields would be lower due to lower rainfall in August.
Patchy rains would cut sugar output in the 2023/24 season and even reduce planting for the 2024/25 season, an industry official, who declined to be named, told Reuters last month.
Haque said there were “worries” about India’s sugar output during the 2024-25 season as well.
Sanjeev Chopra, India’s food secretary, said sugar production would be sufficient to meet domestic demand as good rains in September would improve output.
He said the government would ask mills to sell extra stocks of sugar in local markets to cool prices.
Global sugar prices have risen because of concerns that drier than normal weather linked to the El Nino weather pattern would likely reduce output in top producers India and Thailand.
(Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj, writing by Tanvi Mehta; Editing by Mark Potter, Bernadette Baum and Barbara Lewis)