02 March 2023, New Delhi: India could export up to one million tonnes more of sugar in the 2022/23 season if production is at the upper end of current estimates, an official from one of the country’s largest sugar and ethanol manufacturers said on Wednesday.
Avantika Saraogi of Kolkata-based Balrampur Chini Mills said on the sidelines of the Dubai Sugar Conference that current estimates for India’s sugar production ranged from 33.5 million to 34.5 million tonnes.
India has exported only 6.1 million tonnes of sugar so far in 2022/23, down from a record 11 million tonnes in the prior season. Government and industry officials have downplayed the prospect of more exports due to an expected drop in output, particularly in the major producing state of Maharashtra.
Saraogi said, however, if the crop goes above 34.0 million, and the government sees sufficient stocks in April, it may well approve up to one million tonnes of further exports.
The Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) cut its forecast in late January to 34 million tonnes for the 2022/23 season ending in September, while earlier this week the All India Sugar Trade Association (AISTA) said the country was likely to produce only 33.5 million tonnes.
In contrast, Saraogi said Balrampur Chini Mills was set to report a 15% increase in sugar production in 2022/23 following a better crop this year.
“It’s not true for the whole country, but for my company it is very good,” she said.
Saraogi said her company is currently diverting 20% of its sucrose output into ethanol production after doubling its capacity over the past year.
India has set a target of 20% ethanol blending in gasoline by 2025, up from a current level of about 10%, aiming to save foreign exchange, cut carbon emissions and improve air quality.
Rahil Shaikh, Vice Chairman of AISTA told the conference that about 4.5 million tonnes of sucrose was currently being diverted to make ethanol, with the government prioritising ethanol and the domestic sugar market over exports.
Sonjoy Mohanty, ISMA’s Director General, said ethanol diversion was increasing rapidly and the target of 20% blending by 2025/26 would be achieved.
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