Weakness in Crude Oil Weighs on Sugar Prices

July NY world sugar #11 (SBN24) this morning is down -0.01 (-0.05%), and Aug London ICE white sugar #5 (SWQ24) is up +1.00 (+0.18%).

Sugar prices this morning are little changed. Weakness in crude prices (CLM24) is weighing on sugar. Crude prices fell to a 6-week low today, which weighs on ethanol prices and may prompt global sugar mills to divert more cane crushing to sugar production instead of ethanol, thus boosting sugar supplies.

Also, on the negative side, Unica reported last Friday that 2024/25 Brazil sugar production in the first half of April jumped +31.0% y/y to 710 MT. Also, the percentage of sugarcane crushed for sugar production increased to 43.64% from 38.01% last year, signaling increased sugar supplies.

Conab, Brazil’s crop agency, projected last Thursday that Brazil’s 2024/25 sugar production will climb +1.3% y/y to a record 46.292 MMT as 2024/25 sugar acreage in Brazil increases by +4.1% to 8.7 million hectares (21.5 million acres ), the most in seven years. For the 2023/24 marketing year, however, Conab, on Apr 18, cut its Brazil sugar production estimate by -2.6% to 45.7 MMT from a November estimate of 46.9 MMT.

On Apr 17, NY sugar fell to a 15-month low, and London sugar dropped to a 14-month low on improved supply prospects. On Apr 19, Unica reported that Brazilian sugar output for the 2023-24 marketing year rose +25.7% y/y at 42.425 MMT. Brazil’s sugar mills have ramped up their cane crushing for more sugar and less ethanol. Mills have crushed 48.87% of total cane for sugar production this year, up from 45.86% last year.

Record heat in Thailand that may damage the country’s sugarcane crops is bullish for sugar prices. On Monday, Thailand’s Meteorological Department said that more than three dozen of Thailand’s 77 provinces had posted record-high temperatures this month, with new highs beating records as far back as 1958.

On the bullish side, the Indian Sugar and Bioenergy Manufacturers Association reported on Apr 16 that India’s 2023/24 sugar production from Oct-Apr 15 fell -0.5% y/y to 31.09 MMT as more sugar mills closed for the year and ended their crush of sugarcane. As of Apr 15, 84 Indian sugar mills were still open to produce sugar, compared with 132 mills open at the same time last year.

In October, India extended restrictions on sugar exports from Oct 31 until further notice in an attempt to maintain adequate domestic supplies. India allowed mills to export only 6.1 MMT of sugar during the 2022/23 season to Sep 30 after allowing exports of a record 11.1 MMT in the previous season. India is the second-largest sugar producer in the world.

In a bearish factor for sugar prices, India’s Meteorological Department expects the 2024 (Jun-Sep) monsoon period to be 106% of a long-term average of 87 centimeters, which could boost India’s sugar output. By contrast, the 2023 (Jun-Sep) monsoon rain was 6% below average, the poorest monsoon rainfall in 5 years.

Reduced Thai sugar production is bullish for sugar prices. Rainfall in Thailand has been below the same period last year, and the current El Nino weather system could continue to depress rainfall in Thailand. Sugar millers in Thailand are reporting the lowest yield from crushed cane this year in at least 13 years. Thailand is the world’s third-largest sugar producer and the second-largest sugar exporter. However, Thailand’s government on Apr 22 estimated that Thailand’s 2023/24 sugar production from Dec-Apr 17 was 8.77 MMT, above a Feb estimate from the Thai Sugar Millers Corp for sugar production of 7.5 MMT.

NOAA predicts the recent El Nino weather event will end this month, and the tropical Pacific will transition to neutral conditions, which should benefit weather patterns in South America and Asia and boost global sugar crops.

The USDA, in its bi-annual report released on Nov 23, projected that global 2023/24 sugar production would climb +4.7% y/y to a record 183.461 MMT and that global 2023/24 human sugar consumption would increase +1.2% y/y /y to a record 178.431 MMT. The USDA also forecast that 2023/24 global sugar ending stocks would fall -13.3% y/y to a 13-year low of 33.681 MMT. The International Sugar Organization (ISO) on Feb 28 raised its 2023/24 global sugar deficit estimate to -689,000 MT from a November estimate of -335,000 MT.

More Sugar News from Barchart

On the date of publication, Rich Asplund did not have (either directly or indirectly) positions in any of the securities mentioned in this article. All information and data in this article is solely for informational purposes. For more information please view the Barchart Disclosure Policy here.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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