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EU white sugar prices hit 4-year highs on tight supply, harvest delays

S&P Global Platts European delivered white sugar prices hit four-year highs on Aug. 20, amid concerns over beet harvest delays and low stock levels as the 2020-2021 campaign wraps up.

Platts assessed Northwest and Mediterranean Europe delivered white sugar weekly prices at Eur539/mt and Eur520/mt, respectively, in the week to Aug. 20, compared with Eur501/mt and Eur514/mt a week earlier, to hit levels last seen in July and August of 2017.

The weekly rise in prices in Northwest Europe was driven by higher prices in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, which were all assessed Eur50/mt higher week on week, while French prices were stable following a previous rally earlier in the month.

Higher sugar prices in Italy and Greece supported Mediterranean Europe as Spanish prices were flat on the week.

As lockdown restrictions were eased across the continent, sugar consumption has been trending up in July and August, one source said. With sugar stocks being tight towards the end of an already poor 2020-2021 crop campaign, “stocks are [on track] to be the lowest in about 40 years,” the source added.

Unfavorable weather conditions, heavy rains and a lack of sunshine, have raised concerns over the new crop’s sugar content, with several sources anticipating a delay in harvest if weather conditions do not improve by the usual harvest time of mid-to-late September.

“New crop prices in Italy are rising due to expectations of low production and minimum ending stocks,” another source added.

The latest forecast by Platts Analytics on Aug. 20 for EU+UK 2021-2022 sugar production stood at 17.307 million mt, slightly below the July forecast of 17.365 million mt, following the downward revision of French beet acreage.

Platts Analytics kept its 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 EU+UK production estimates unchanged at 15.579 million mt and 17.145 million mt, respectively.
Source: Platts

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