India’s sugar output is up so far this season, but the boost is likely to be short lived, as low cane availability brings an early end to crushing.
Data from the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) showed sugar production is running ahead of last year’s, but gap is narrowing, and mills are starting to close.
India’s total sugar production is expected to be well behind seasons thanks to the dry weather across the country, especially in the top growing state of Maharashtra.
Production slows down
The ISMA data showed Indian sugar production at 17.34m tonnes from the start of the season in October 2015 to February 15.
This is up 3.6% year on year.
But the pace of crushing is easing up, with just 3.084m tonnes crushed between the end of January and February 15, a drop of 10,000 tonnes year-on-year.
Tracey Allen, senior analyst at Rabobank, told Agrimoney that the relatively strong start to the season could be attributed to the same dry weather that would ultimately cut output.
“When you have dry conditions you don’t have rain delays in cutting cane,” she said.
“The other factor is that when the canes are quite dry, you have less green foliage on the cane.”
Mills hang up shutters
Production in India is under pressure from dry weather, which has lowered the amount of cane available.
Already out of the 511 mills that started crushing this season, 39 have hung up the shutters.
This compared to just 11 mills out of 527 last season.
33 of those mills are in drought stricken Maharashtra, where production is already behind last year’s pace.
Output to fall
This month the ISMA forecast total Indian sugar production at just 26.0m tonnes, down from 28.3m tonnes last season.
Last month sugar analyst group Kingsman issued a marginally more upbeat outlook, at 26.6m tonnes.
“We still maintain a higher number than other analysts,” said Kingsman, as it suggested that immature cane could be cut this season, as mills try to cash in on an expected rise in domestic prices during the intercrop period.
Plantings down for next season
And the dryness pressure on Indian production into next season, Ms Allen said.
“Looking at the current moisture levels, there are significant concerns for yields and plantings concerns,” she said.
“We’re anticipated a lower crop year-on-year.”
“One report estimates that Maharashtra’s production next year will be down 25% due to lower plantings, which in turn is a result of drought,” noted Robin Shaw, sugar analyst at Marex Spectron.
(Source – http://www.agrimoney.com/news/pace-of-indian-sugar-harvest-slows–9312.html)