Board allays unease over sugar supply

Board allays unease over sugar supply

A farmer harvests his crop of sugar cane.
A farmer harvests his crop of sugar cane.

Thai officials are working to ensure adequate sugar supply in the country amid concern over huge projected exports as global prices surge.

Global sugar prices are being monitored after India, the world's largest sugar producer and second-largest exporter after Brazil, decided to curb its sugar exports, said Ekapat Wangsuwan, secretary-general of the Office of the Cane and Sugar Board (OCSB).

India imposed a restriction on sugar exports for the first time in six years, capping the amount at 10 million tonnes to prevent a surge in its domestic sugar prices.

"Global sugar prices currently stand at around 19 to 20 cents per pound and the prices tend to keep increasing," said Mr Ekapat.

Sugar prices on the world market increased after Brazil, the world's largest sugar producer, started using more sugar cane as a feedstock for ethanol manufacturing because ethanol has a higher profit margin than that of sugar, despite the global oil price surge.

Brazil, also the world's second-largest producer of ethanol, used to mix in benzine for the fuel.

The OCSB is confident Thai exports of sugar will not greatly increase even as global prices rise because there are state measures in place to prevent a sugar shortage in the domestic market, he said.

"Thailand has prepared enough sugar to serve consumption in the country," said Mr Ekapat.

"Sugar cane output in the 2021-22 crop year is high, standing at around 92 million tonnes, compared with 66.7 million tonnes in the last crop year."

The increase in sugar prices in the world market also resulted from the ongoing energy price crisis and higher raw material prices, driven by the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war, said Narathip Anantasuk, head of the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters and head of the Office of Sugarcane Planter Association Zone 7.

"Thailand's ex-factory price of white sugar stands at 17.25 baht per kilogramme and the refined sugar price is 18.25 baht per kg," he said.

Thai sugar cane farmers are monitoring fertiliser and labour costs, which have increased and threaten to affect the sugar industry, said Mr Narathip.



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