Monday, 17 August 2009



So What’s With The Price Of Sugar?

Maybe you’ve noticed. The price of table sugar has changed. It’s at a 28 year high right now, and folks aren’t at all confident it will go down soon. USDA expects sugar supplies to drop by 43% over the next year.

Analysts aren’t worried about empty supermarket shelves, but some sugar users are clamoring for a reduction in sugar trade barriers. U.S. sugar users pay, or paid, just about double the world price of sugar, to protect the U.S. sugar producers from cheap imports. But high world prices now pretty much negate that tariff. U.S. beekeepers can’t complain a lot about this, I imagine, because they have the same plan in place to protect the price of American honey. Many major U.S. sugar users were able to buy futures at lower prices a bit ago so the current increase won’t be seen for some time from some supp liers, while some sugar sellers are arguing that in reality there isn’t a shortage at all, and there’s plenty to go around.

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But the shortage, or shortage story can be traced to the two main sugar producers in the world, India and Brazil. They have both had adverse weather for sugar production this season. India, the second largest producer hasn’t had enough rain this season, thus hasn’t been able to produce enough sugar to meet internal demands and will be a net importer this year, reducing world supply.  Brazil, the largest producer has had too much rain and hasn’t been able to harvest their crop, and what has been harvested has a reduced sucrose content. Thus, world demand will exceed production by about 5 million tons, according to some experts. This after a 7.8 million ton deficit this year. T his will result in a raw sugar price at about 20 - 25 cents/pound for the remainder of the year, according to a Reuters India report.
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Kraft and General Mills believe that the U.S. will virtually run out of sugar, but new markets and suppliers should surface due to a 91 percent year to date price increase, perhaps. This supply/demand issue also reflects the fact that sugar prices were depressed last year, resulting in fewer acres being planted this year, so the exact ability of other suppliers to fill gaps remains an unknown. And the role of beet sugar is still cloudy. And meanwhile, some sugar is committed to the ethanol industry, while HFCS will probably see a firming of markets due to this shortage, but what role the health industry will play remains to be seen.
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Benefiting from higher sugar prices, according to a Gerson-Lehman Group report will be marketers of imports in Brazil including Bunge Ltd., Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta and Bayer. Producers and traders and sugar beet industry members like Tate and Lyle, ED&F Man, C&H Sugar, American Crystal, Minn-Dak Farmers Coop, Pfeifer & Langen, Cargil, ADM and others. This will also put less pressure on HFCS sellers to keep prices low, so ADM, Cargill and others will benefit there, also. Those hurt?  Major candy and ice cream companies, Marrs, Nestle and Unilver, Kraft, General Mills, Interstate Bakeries and Gold Medal bakeries among others.
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Analysts expect prices to remain high for at least one more growing season, so supply may improve by then, but the weather bats last.

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