Production of globally-accepted high-quality refined sugar to dispose off surplus

Massive unconsumed sugar stock from the last year and an expected higher production this year has led to an imminent threat of “industry collapse” as the availability of sugar is set to reach an unprecedented level of 44 million tonnes, say the industry sources.
As a result of the vast stocks of sugar, the mills are mulling over producing globally-accepted high-quality refined sugar as the most conducive way to dispose off the surplus.
Brazil, the world’s largest sugar producer, has decided to lower production this year which has given Indian industry an opportunity to fill the space. However, it will have to live up to global expectations, the National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories (NFCSF) has said.
NFCSF said the mills are planning to boost their exports by improving quality of sugar to 45 ICUMSA grade, a high-quality refined grade and considered one of the highest purity levels globally.
“Currently, we produce sugar whose grade is between 100-150 ICUMSA. Till now, the domestic consumption offset the domestic output. So Indian sugar mills never bothered about producing high refined quality sugar as per the global standards,” NFCSF Managing Director Prakash Naiknavare told IANS.
ICUMSA is a global body and its rating is an international unit for expressing the purity of the sugar which is directly related to the colour of the sweetener.
Brazil has decided to cut down sugar production by earmarking more cane for manufacturing ethanol, so India finds a space where the domestic surplus can be accommodated.
“To achieve it, we will have to produce sugar of 45 ICUMSA grade. It will take minimal efforts and capital to upgrade the existing machinery,” Naiknavare said.
India has a surplus (opening stock) of 10.5 million tonnes from the last season and it is expected to produce around 33.5 million tonnes of the sweetener in 2018-19 starting October.
So the total availability of sugar this year will be around 44 million tonnes against the expected domestic consumption of 26 million tonnes, thus putting a “burden” on the mills to clear huge sugar stocks in the backdrop of depressed retail prices — around Rs 37 per kg in the national capital compared to around Rs 40-43 a year ago.
As the sugar output in Brazil is to go down by almost 10 million tonnes, India is set to become the largest sugar producer in the world this year.
Naiknavare said it was “a god-sent” gift, which had provided India “with an opportunity to make perception that India can be a great destination” for high-quality refined sugar.
As per the initial estimates of the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA), which represents private sugar mills in the country, India is set to produce around 35 million tonnes in the 2018-19 season starting October against 32.25 million tonnes in the previous year.
(With agency inputs)

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