The Centre is unlikely to permit additional sugar exports this season as production is estimated to dip by 4-5 lakh tonnes (lt) from the previous estimate of 336 lt due to untimely rains in Maharashtra, Food Secretary Sanjeev Chopra said. The country had produced 357.6 lt in the 2021-22 sugar season (October-September).

The Food Ministry has allowed 61 lt of sugar exports for the 2022-23 season, of which about 53 lt have already been dispatched by mills for export, as per official sources. India exported a record 110 lt of sugar in 2021-22 season.

“We had a sugar production estimate of 386 lt (including 45-50 lt diversion for ethanol). Maybe production will go down by 4-5 lt maximum due to unseasonal rains in Maharashtra. A better clarity will emerge on output in the next 10-15 days,” Chopra said on Thursday on the sidelines of an event.

Some industry leaders said that the way production is declining it may be difficult if the overall production reaches 325 lt this year.

Additional sugar export quota is unlikely as there is no such proposal before the government, he said. Sugar production in India has declined by 3 per cent to 299.6 lt in the first six months of the current season, Indian Sugar Mills’ Association (ISMA) said earlier this week.

Asked if the government would stop diversion towards ethanol, Chopra said there is no such need as of now and it is empowered to do so as sugar is the first priority.

Global decline

Experts said there has been a decline in sugar production in China, Thailand and India from the previous estimates and it has firmed up global prices. Considering the inflation situation in India, the domestic industry has also stopped demanding more export quota.

ISMA is scheduled to assess the production in its next committee meeting around April 25, as by that time there will be a fair idea on the production. By mid-April, crushing will be over in Maharashtra and Karnataka and most of the mills in Uttar Pradesh are also likely to close their plants. The industry body has estimated current year’s output at 340 lt (excluding quantity diverted towards ethanol) against annual domestic consumption of about 275 lt.