This update is from Sosland Publishing Co.’s weekly Sweetener Report. This update is from Sosland Publishing’s Sweetener Report. For more information and subscription details, CLICK HERE. 

Insight Focus

  • Sugar sales have rocketed this month in America.
  • Some beet processors are approaching 75% sold for 2023/24.
  • They are considering stopping sales earlier than usual to guard against any shortfalls in supply.

Contracting of bulk refined sugar for 2023-24 continued at a brisk pace during the week ended March 17. Prices were firmer. The amount of prospective supply processors were willing to sell before the beet crop is even planted quickly was approaching levels that will mean price increases to discourage sales or stepping away from the market.

Beet processor sales roared past the 50% of prospective production mark in the second week since sideline meetings during the International Sweetener Colloquium got negotiations rolling. Indications were sales were approaching 75% or more of prospective production. Some processors said they were nearly overwhelmed with pricing inquiries. One processor had withdrawn from the market at week’s end, and at least one other processor was reassessing its position after vigorous sales the past two weeks and was selling selectively.

Some beet processors plan to cut off sales earlier than in past years to protect themselves from a potential shortfall in supplies. They will at least wait to see how many beet acres are planted and possibly longer before reentering the market to sell the remainder of their supply. Some cane processors also were a bit more cautious this year. In recent years force majeures by beet processors have forced buyers to cane refiners, who in some cases were not able to accommodate the increased volume despite higher prices.

There was concern about weather and soil conditions in northern areas, primarily in the Red River Valley and in northern beet growing areas of the Western Sugar Cooperative. Cold air and soil temperatures along with ample moisture and snow still on the ground in the Upper Midwest did not bode well for early sugar beet planting.

Pricing was firm to higher. Some beet processors raised offers for 2023-24 up to 53¢ to 53.50¢ a lb f.o.b. and were actively selling at the higher levels. Prices for refined cane sugar mostly were unchanged at 57¢ to 57.50¢ a lb f.o.b. Northeast and West Coast for calendar 2024, from 54¢ a lb to 56¢ a lb f.o.b. Southeast and 55¢ to 56¢ a lb f.o.b. Gulf depending on seller and delivery period. One processor who had been around 54¢ a lb f.o.b. in the Gulf recently moved up to 55¢ to 56¢ a lb. Spot cane sugar still was offered at 62¢ a lb f.o.b. across the country.

The March 13 reallocation by the Office of the US Trade Representative of 247,182 tons of raw cane sugar tariff-rate quota imports had no apparent impact on nearby sugar prices or contracting for 2023-24.

Indications were a bit more beet sugar was available on the spot market from some beet processors due to buyers’ underperformance on contracts. While not all processors were able to take part, at least some were reselling sugar that buyers didn’t take. Beet sugar had been nominally priced at 60¢ a lb f.o.b., but indications were some could be purchased slightly below that level.

The USDA state office in Louisiana rated the sugar cane crop 4% excellent, 61% good, 32% fair and 3% poor as of March 12, compared with 52% good to excellent, 46% fair and 2% poor at the same time last year.

Corn sweetener markets mostly were routine with numerous buyers still not fully covered for 2023. Supplies were expected to be tight for the rest of the year.