In response to a recent question concerning some of the major factors influencing sugar prices a brief summary below outlines such factors.
Brazil is the world’s largest sugar producer and exporter with over 20% of production, over 40% of exports and an even greater share of raw sugar exports. This implies that Brazil will have a substantial influence on the world sugar market and sugar prices. Most of Brazil’s sugar is produced in the Center South region with Sao Paulo and Parana being the main producing states. Production costs in Brazil’s Center South are the lowest globally. Therefore the cost of producing sugar in Brazil and the Centre South region more specifically has direct implications for world sugar prices. World sugar prices denominated in US dollars and Center South sugar prices exhibit long-run co-integration. Naturally the Brazilian Real through its exchange rate with the US dollar also plays an important role in world sugar prices.
The most obvious influence on sugar prices is the impact of annual world supply and demand balances. These can be analysed through production minus consumption figures and the ratio of world sugar stocks to global consumption. Stocks can magnify or reduce the impact of a sugar surplus or deficit obtained from analysing production and consumption figures.
Another major factor affecting world sugar prices is the error that is made when estimating consumption and production figures. Once estimates are revised or final figures published the correction can have an impact on sugar prices. Figures showing a world sugar surplus that eventually after revision show a deficit may lead to a rise in prices to adjust for the error.
There are other short, medium and long-term influences on sugar prices. However, the above are probably a few of the most significant.
Minister K.V. Thomas confirmed that sugar prices have remained stable since April 2013 after deregulation of the sector. Deregulation has given mills the freedom to sell in the open market and no obligation to supply the sweetener at subsidized rates to government ration shops.
Sugar production during 2012-13 sugar season is estimated to be about 24.8 million tonnes as against domestic consumption requirement of about 23 million tonnes. The import duty on import of sugar has been kept at moderate level of 15 per cent, he added. Sugar is currently available in the market at Rs 35-40 per kg in the capital.
India is the world’s second largest producer and biggest consumer of sugar. India’s rupee has tumbled 14% this year. Exports may increase threefold next year as the depressed domestic currency increases demand for sugar exports from the Middle East and Asia. Exports could reach 1 million metric tonnes according to Renuka Sugars with the National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories suggesting that exports this season may exceed 300,000 metric tonnes.
Indian exports may simply add to global sugar stocks further depressing global prices. Sugar prices have fallen for three years making the decline the longest since 1992. Global supply in the 2013/14 season commencing October will exceed demand by 4.5 million tonnes.
Germany produced 3.64 million tonnes of white sugar during the 2010/11 season according to the German sugar industry association WVZ, down from the 4.2 million tonnes produced during the 2009/10 season. Bad weather reducing sucrose content was to blame. Initially a heat wave in the summer, followed by late rains and then a very cold winter impacted the crop. The 2010/11 season is now complete.
German sugar supplies stand at 3.86 million tonnes which is almost 1 million tonnes above Germany’s EU quota of 2.89. The EU sets quotas for sugar production which is subsidized across the EU. Above quota sales are restricted to industrial use such as ethanol production.
Imports into the EU are lower due to higher world sugar prices making other destinations more attractive. German demand for sugar is likely to increase following the government’s decision to increase the percentage of ethanol blended into gasoline in Germany. This is likely to also increase the size of the German beet crop during the 2011 season which commences in the winter.