Czarnikow lifts estimate for world sugar surplus

Czarnikow raised its forecast for the world sugar production surplus, cautioning over the dearth of growth in consumption, which is being depressed in part by China's support for values of the sweetener.

The London-based commodities house lifted by 700,000 tonnes to 7.8m tonnes its forecast for the surplus in 2012-13, the latest in a series of upgrades to hopes for world sugar supplies.

Swiss-based Kingsman earlier this month raised its estimate for the surplus by 2.5m tonnes to 9.2m tonnes, while the International Sugar Organization last month nudged its forecast higher by 327,000 tonnes to 6.184m tonnes.

Czarnikow kept its forecast for production unchanged at  a little over 180m tonnes, with a cut to ideas for sugar beet yields in China and Russia offset by increased hopes for the Mexican cane crop.

'The big question'

However, the group trimmed by 500,000 tonnes to 169.9m tonnes its forecast for 2012 demand.

And it reduced its forecast too for growth next year, when consumption will reached 172.2m tonnes, 800,000 tonnes lower than previously expected, despite weaker prices, down nearly one-half on New York's futures markets from highs in February last year.

"The rate of growth in production is falling, which reflects lower prices," Toby Cohen, Czarnikow director said.

"However, the big question is when consumption will start to respond and we will see a return to the faster rates of growth seen in the past decade.

"So far we haven't seen tangible signs of higher demand, despite sugar prices falling significantly over the last two years."

China impact

Indeed, consumption would, on latest estimates, be just 3.6% higher in 2013 than three years before.

Production is expected to soar nearly 16% from 2009-10 to 2012-13.

The depressed rate of consumption reflects in part state support for sugar prices in China, a major sweeteners market, "sustaining high cane prices, thus buoying demand for corn sweeteners", Czarnikow said.

However, in Mexico, a major market for US-produced high fructose corn syrup, lower sugar prices, encouraged by a better-than-expected cane crop, will see a switch away from corn sweeteners.

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