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Thailand Aims to be Sugar Bowl of Asia
Thailand, the world's second-biggest sugar exporter, has revised up its forecast for 2012/13 sugar production to 10.4 million tonnes and aims to produce more every year in order to supply rising consumption in Asia, a top industry official said.
That new forecast is up 1 to 2 percent from a May estimate of 10.2 million to 10.3 million tonnes. A crop of that size would beat the current 2011/12 season's record of 10.2 million tonnes. "We aim to be the sugar bowl of Asia and we aim to produce more sugar every year by extending sugar areas and using better farming technology to get better yields," Prasert Tapaneeyangkul, secretary-general of the Office of the Cane and Sugar Board (OCSB) said. He was speaking to Reuters ahead of the Kingsman Asia Pacific Sugar Conference in Bangkok, which began on Monday.
Thailand was likely to set aside the usual 2.2 million to 2.4 million tonnes of sugar for domestic consumption from the 2012/13 crop. "This means we can ensure that Thailand will have a record surplus of 8 million tonnes of sugar to supply the world market in 2013," he said. Thailand exported a record 6.71 million tonnes in 2011 and was expected to set another record of around 7.0 million tonnes this year, driven by rising output and strong demand.
Prasert reckoned a fall in New York raw sugar prices, which set the global trend, would not last long with the market worried about weak demand because of the euro zone debt crisis. New York raw sugar futures hit a 30-year high at 36.08 US cents per lb in February 2011 but are now little more than half of that, near a two-year low at 20 cents per lb.
However, Prasert said the Thai sugar industry was still in a bullish mood, believing Thailand would be able to increase production more easily than other countries in order to supply Asia, where there was still a deficit. "We still believe that demand will remain strong, especially in China," Prasert said.