Sugar Low: Commodity Plummets on Surplus

May 02, 2018 at 4:42 AM

For sugar, there’s no sweet ending in sight after a long period of declining prices.

And analysts forecast another surplus next season, which begins in October, suggesting a recovery in sugar prices is a long way off.

“Pretty much every bit of news coming out right now is bearish,” said Nick Penney a senior trader at Sucden Financial Limited.

As the current season wears on, consultancies and trade bodies have been raising their production forecasts.

Australia-based consultancy Green Pool recently upped its surplus estimate by 43% to almost 15 million tons. The International Sugar Organization, the global trade body, sees a surplus of 5.2 million tons.

The last growing season, from 2016 to 2017, recorded a 2.5 million ton deficit.
But now, a bunch of big sugar growers are opening the floodgates.

In particular, production in India—the world’s second-largest producer—has piled pressure on prices. The Indian government is expected to create subsidies to encourage sugar exports for the first time since late 2013.

The European Union has lifted export quotas that had previously kept a lid on sugar coming out of the bloc, the third largest global producer. Thailand is also adding to the pile with its own big sugar haul. European and Thai supply are forecast to have increased 21% and 22% respectively in the 2017/18 season, according to the ISO.

Brazil, the world’s largest producer, may produce less sugar than it did in its record season last year, but that reduction will “barely leave a dent” in the global excess, said John Stansfield, an analyst at sugar trading house Group Sopex.

The excess supply comes despite resilient demand.

Even as the U.K. and other places introduce sugar taxes, global consumption is set to grow 1.6% in 2017/18, in-line with the five-year average, the ISO said.

The Far East and Oceania region accounts for the largest proportion of consumption and is the region with the second fastest growth, behind Equatorial and Southern Africa.

The falling price of sugar is taking its toll on the companies that trade it.

In one example, ED&F Man Holdings recently confirmed the departure of the managing director of its sugar division, amid a wider restructuring.

“I don’t see any relief for the market next season and if you look at the sugar trading outlook and the number of trading houses in the market, they’re competing more aggressively for that market,”said Warren Patterson, strategist at ING.

Tags: Green Pool