India’s sugar production in the 2022-23 sugar season (SS ), which began this month, is estimated at a record 410 lakh tonnes before considering diversion towards ethanol. This is higher by about 5 per cent as compared to the 392 lakh tonnes produced in the 2021-22 SS, according to estimates released by the Indian Sugar Mills’ Association (ISMA) on Monday.  

Based on satellite mapping carried out in June 2022, ISMA’s preliminary estimates released in July 2022 projected net production at 355 lakh tonnes for 2022-23 SS. This was estimated after considering a diversion of 45 lakh tonnes for production of ethanol using B heavy molasses / juice / syrup.

“The second set of satellite images of sugarcane crop acreage has been procured in the first week of October.  Based on the images procured, the total acreage under sugarcane is estimated at around 59 lakh hectares in 2022-23 SS, which is about 6 per cent higher than the 2021-22 sugar season’s cane area of around 56 lakh ha,” ISMA said in the press release.

The increase in acreage and the expected increase in sugarcane production was discussed in ISMA’s meeting on Monday.

Ethanol required and supplied

About 545 crore litres of ethanol would be required and supplied to achieve the target of 12 per cent blending during 2022-23. 

“The Indian sugar industry is committed to nation-building and achieving the government’s ethanol blending target for the 2022-23 season. Therefore, diversion towards production of ethanol is estimated to be higher by 32 per cent at 45 lakh tonnes in the current year, against 34 lakh tonnes estimated in the last season,” ISAM added.

After accounting for the reduction of 45 lakh tonnes in production due to diversion of cane juice / syrup and B-molasses to ethanol, ISMA estimates production in 2022-23 at around 365 lakh tonnes.

An opening balance as on October 1, 2022, at around 55 lakh tonnes, estimated production of around 365 lakh tonnes for the season 2022-23, and estimated domestic sales of around 275 lakh tonnes, will leave the additional sugar at around 90 lakh tonnes, which will have to be exported to maintain the same closing stock. 

Brazil sugar scenario

The export window for Indian sugar appears to be quite short in the current year as CS Brazil sugar production is expected to bounce back to normal levels of around 36 million tonnes during its 2023-24 SS, which is due to start in April 2023, with Brazilian sugar hitting the global market by May 2023.

Further, most mills have already contracted export supplies in the current season. So, an early announcement of the export policy by the government will be appreciated, ISMA added.