La Niña Could Cut Brazil’s Sugar Production in 2022

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La Niña is back, and it could result in another poor sugarcane crop in Brazil. As Brazil supplies about 40%-50% of the world’s sugar exports, favorable sugarcane growing conditions in Thailand and India might be key to averting global supply problems in sugar next year. 

Sugar is widely used by companies ranging from confectionery (including candies and chocolate), baked goods and soft drink manufacturers, to name a few. Many convenience foods and snacks contain sugar as well.

Sugar prices have been stuck near four-year highs because Brazil’s crop is expected to finish in the next few weeks around 10% below 2020’s output, due to drought and frost conditions in July. Weather prospects for Brazil’s next crop, especially cumulative rainfall during the next five months in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most important sugarcane production region, will determine where prices go from here. 

To ensure a decent harvest next year, Brazil’s sugarcane crop will need about 1,000 mm of rainfall between now and March, according to a Gro analysis of 20 years of rainfall. This past year had cumulative rainfall 30% below the average. Even as Brazil’s rainy season gets underway, the Gro Drought Index for Sao Paulo currently sits at 2.75, indicating “severe” drought. 

Monitor rainfall in the key Sao Paulo region using this Gro analytic.  

La Niña conditions have brought sufficient rain to India and Thailand’s sugarcane crops in recent months. Gro analytics displaying NDVI for sugarcane in Thailand and sugar beets in the EU currently show that both producers will likely harvest a good crop this year, and this has paused the rise in sugar prices. 

Sugar production in the EU and Thailand is forecast to increase 12% and 40%, respectively, from last season, while India’s production is expected to hit a record. Gro’s satellite-derived NDVI, which detects infrared light reflected from plants, can signal stresses to plant health two weeks before problems are visible to the naked eye. 

Brazil’s sugar mills favored sugar production over ethanol this season, and they are expected to do the same next season. The global sugar market cannot afford to lose sugar production to ethanol, as a supply deficit is expected for the 2021/22 season.  

To better monitor sugarcane crop prospects around the world, Gro's Navigator for Agriculture brings together in a single app displays on weather, growing conditions, and long-term forecasts, weighted by specific crop and/or region. Learn more about the Navigator for Agriculture app here, or contact support@gro-intelligence.com

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