Traders, producers and analysts were mostly bullish about the outlook for already high sugar prices as they gathered at an annual meeting this week in New York, while a few expressed caution after sugar hit an 11-1/2 year high last week.
Raw sugar prices at the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) rose 37 per cent since January to a peak of 27.41 cents per pound last week amid a short-term supply tightness and concerns over the arrival of the El Nino climate phenomenon later this year, which could disrupt crops.
"I would still buy this market," said Jeremy Austin, general director for sugar trader Sucden in Brazil. He said that 85 per cent of the sugar to be exported has already been hedged, so not much additional selling is seen ahead. "The more likely scenario it would be a market that goes up to 30, before it falls to 20," he said.
Rodrigo Ostanello, head of sugar for the Americas for British trader ED&F Man, agreed with the upside potential, citing challenges in Brazil related to logistics and the weather for sugarcane processing. "This (Brazil) crop could go down to 37, 36, 35 (million tonnes), to me it is more to the downside than the upside."
"I would probably sell the market now," said Michael McDougall, managing director at Paragon Global Markets, LLC, adding that a lot of the bullishness in the market is related to the possibility of El Nino hurting planting in India and Thailand in the coming months. "If monsoon is ok, this market will fall," he said.
"In the shorter term I'm nervous that everyone is bullish, we've already had a big rally fueled in part by buyers being squeezed and so I think it's possible the market pauses/weakens a bit," said Stephen Geldart, an analyst with broker and supply chain services provider Czarnikow.
Raw sugar prices on ICE rose 3 per cent on Friday after trading mostly lower this week.