India’s sugar exports are likely to decline to around 8 million tonnes (MT) in the next season starting October, compared with a record shipment of around 11.2 MT worth $4.6 billion in 2021-22. The drop is assigned to lower carry-forward stocks at the start of the season. Sugar prices in the global markets are firm at present and if the demand persists, the export realization may turn out to be high despite reduced volumes.
The decline in sugar exports would be despite the India Sugar Mills Association (Isma)’s estimate of production of 40 MT of sweetener in the 2022-23 crop season, against 39.4 MT in the 2021-22 season.
Sugar mills have urged the government to allow exports of 8 MT of the sweetener under the open general license (OGL) for the next season. This, according to the Isma, will help the sugar mills enter into future export contracts well in advance prior to the beginning of the season. Of the total sugar production of 40 MT next season, around 4.5 MT is expected to be diverted to ethanol production while domestic consumption is estimated at 27.5 MT in the next season.
However, the food ministry will take a call after assessing the supply situations in October or November about the nature of export permits under OGL or to continue with the existing quota system for sugar exports. Due to adequate monsoon rainfall in Maharashtra and Karnataka, and irrigation facilities in Uttar Pradesh, the current sugarcane crop prospects are quite strong, an official said.
Sugar season is between October and September. The sugarcane crushing season usually starts in October-November and continues till April. In sugar seasons 2017-18, 2018-19, and 2019-20, about 600,000 tonnes, 3.8 MT, and 5.9 MT, respectively, of the sweetener were exported. The exports stood at 7.1 MT in 2020-21.