EU heading for lower sugar output as pest attacks bite

PARIS (Reuters) – The European Union is heading for a significant drop in sugar output this year after fields were devastated by pests and dry weather, making the bloc a net importer and pressuring a fragile sugar industry, analysts say. Sugar production in the EU and Britain is set to fall to 16.1 million tonnes, down from about 17 million in 2019, mainly due to lower sugar beet output in top producer France, French growers’ group CGB estimates. Yields in France are expected to fall by 15% compared to the five-year average mainly because jaundice transmitted by aphids ravaged fields across the country, CGB analyst Timothe Masson said. Combined with a lower area sown, that means production of sugar beet, also used to make ethanol fuel, would fall to 31.7 million tonnes from 38.6 million in 2019, cutting French refined sugar production to 4.1 million tonnes from 4.9 million. “You have to go back to 2003 to see such poor yields,” Masson said. The lower output this year will mean a shorter production period for sugar producers at similar costs, reducing their competitiveness, Masson said. He estimated the loss for the French sugar industry at 170 million euros ($202 million).… continue reading

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