25 April 2012
MY2011/12 sugarcane production will likely increase to 100 million tons, up 5.0 percent from the previous year, due to acreage expansion and average yield improvement. Farmers have shifted to sugarcane production replacing tapioca driven by a government support program and attractive market prices. The average yield increased to 12.4 tons/rai (77.3 tons/hectares), up approximately 2.0 percent from the previous year, due to favorable weather conditions.
Meanwhile, the severe flooding in 2011, which affected nearly 10.0 million rai of agricultural land, caused marginal damages to the sugarcane crop as most of it is cultivated upland. The damaged areas are estimated at around 0.1 million rai (0.02 million hectares) which account for less than 1.0 percent of total cultivated areas.
According to the official MY2011/12 crushing report by the Office of Cane and Sugar Board (OCBD) issued on April 4, 2012, sugar mills have crushed around 93.0 million tons of sugarcane with a total sugar production of 9.7 million tons since the season began on November 15, 2011. The average extraction rate of sugarcane for sugar increased to 104.3 kg/ton of cane, up 2.9 percent from the previous year. By the end of the crushing season in mid-May 2012, total sugar production will likely increase to 10.4 million tons, up 7.2 percent from the previous year.
MY2012/13 sugarcane production is forecast to continue its upward trend to 105 million tons, up 4-5 percent from the previous year, in anticipation of acreage expansion. The cultivated areas will likely increase to 8.4 million rai (1.3 million hectares) due to attractive returns, as compared to alternative crops like tapioca and corn (Figure 1). Most of the sugarcane harvest will be primarily used for sugar production, with a minimal use for gasohol production although gasohol consumption has increased in Thailand.
Estimated Return of Crops
In addition, some sugar millers, who received government licenses to operate new sugar facilities in 2010 – 2011, have set up their new facilities which will start operating by MY2012/13. The number of sugar mills are expected to increase to 51 mills with a total production capacity of approximately 1.0 million tons/day, up from 47 mills with a production capacity of 0.9 million tons/day in the past three decades. Sugar production is expected to increase to 10.8 million tons, up 3-4 percent from the previous year.
Gasohol uses approximately 0.6 percent of sugarcane production as molasses and tapioca make up the bulk of the ethanol production in Thailand (see TH1088, “Biofuel Annual 2011”). Any increase of sugarcane use for gasohol production will remain low as sugar prices continue to be more attractive than ethanol prices. Presently, there is only one sugarcane-based ethanol plant operating in Thailand using 0.5 – 0.6 million tons of cane/year. A portion of sugarcane used in this plant will be cultivated in an area of approximately 13,200 rai (2,112 hectares) which is unsuitable for the production of edible corps due to the hazardous nature of the locale. However, only around 5,000 ria (800 hectares) or 40 percent of total area has been cultivated, so far, due to unattractive returns to farmers. In addition, the government price support program does not include sugarcane use for ethanol production.
MY2011/12 and MY2012/13 sugar consumption is forecast to increase around 8.0 percent to 2.6 million tons and 2.8 million tons, respectively, in anticipation of a domestic economic recovery. The Government expects that 60-70 percent of the industries affected by the floods to recover by the first half of 2012. The economy is expected to grow 5.5 - 6.5 percent in 2012 after the economic slowdown in the previous year. Industrial use will likely increase to 1.2 million tons in MY2011/12, and 1.3 million tons in MY2012/13, which accounts for around 45.0 percent of total sugar consumption. Meanwhile, household use is expected to increase around 7.0 percent to 1.4 and 1.5 million tons, respectively.
MY2010/11 sugar consumption growth slowed down from around 10.0 percent in the previous year to approximately 5-6 percent or 2.4 million tons as food and beverage manufacturers, which account for around 70 percent of the total industrial use, were affected by the floods in the last quarter of 2011. The flooding slowed down the economy, reducing GDP growth to 0.1 percent in 2011, as compared to 7.8 percent in the previous year. Industrial use increased around 5.0 percent from the previous year, as compared to 18.0 percent in the previous year, due to the 0.1 percent contraction of industrial use in the fourth quarter of 2011 from the same period of the previous year. Meanwhile, household use, which accounts for 56.0 percent of total sugar consumption, increase to around 1.3 million tons, up 12.8 percent from the previous year. According to the Ministry of Public Health, per capita consumption of sugar has tripled from the standard of 10.0 kg/year to around 30.0 kg/year over the past five years.
MY2010/11 sugar exports increased to 6.6 million tons, up 35.0 percent from the previous year, due to large supplies of sugar from the bumper sugarcane crop. The increase was reflected in a surge of raw sugar exports, which nearly doubled from the previous year, particularly to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Russia, Indonesia, and China, due to limited supplies exportable supplies from Australia and Brazil caused by unfavorable weather conditions. In addition, Thailand fulfilled the FY2011 U.S. tariff quota (TRQ) of raw cane sugar of 14,743 tons, and an additional allocation and reallocation of 9,452 tons. Meanwhile, Thailand’s sugar imports increased to around 19,000 tons, far above its WTO TRQ level of 13,760 tons , due to a sugar shortage panic resulting from rumors of tight supplies at the beginning of the year.
MY2011/12 and MY2012/13 sugar exports will likely trend upward in anticipation of large supplies of sugar from the acreage expansion of the sugarcane crop. Sugar exports are expected to increase to 9.0 million tons in MY2011/12, and around 9.3 million tons in MY2012/13. Raw sugar exports will likely account for around 66.0 percent of total sugar exports. Presently, Thai sugar exporters have sold forward contracts of around 80 - 90 percent of their MY2011/12 sugar production at around 25-26 U.S. cent/lb which is 10-15 percent higher than the previous year’s price levels, driven by anticipated lower-than-expected exportable supplies of Brazilian sugar due to drought. In addition, Thailand will be able to fulfill the FY2012 U.S. TRQ of raw cane sugar of 15,027 tons and has offered to supply additional 100,000 tons if a quota reallocation or addition is implemented. Meanwhile, sugar imports in MY2011/12 and MY2012/13 will likely decline to around 10,000 tons in due to a significant increase in domestic supplies.
MY2010/11 sugar stocks increased to around 3.0 million tons due to better-than-expected sugar production amid the slowdown in consumption caused by the floods in the last quarter of 2011. Meanwhile, sugar stocks will likely decline to 1.8 million tons in MY2011/12 and 0.6 million tons in MY2012/13 in anticipation of an increase in sugar exports.
MY2011/12 sugarcane support prices were set at 1,000 baht/ton ($32.7/MT), up 5.8 percent from 945 baht/ton ($31.0/MT) in the previous year. In addition, on February 22, 2012 the cabinet approved the direct payment of 154 baht/ton ($5/MT) for farmers. In total, farmers will receive 1,154 baht/ton ($37.8/MT), as compared to current market prices of 958 baht/ton ($31.4/MT). Consequently, the Government will likely maintain its price control policy on sugar set on May 1, 2008 at 19 baht/kg ($29 cent/lb) for refined sugar, ex factory wholesale (excluding 7 percent Value Added Tax). The retail prices (including the value-added tax) are set at 21.85 baht/kg ($33 cent/lb) for white sugar, and 22.85 baht/kg ($35 cent/lb) for refined sugar. The Government will use the revenue from the value-added tax collected on domestic sales of sugar, for debt repayment to the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperative (BAAC) on costs incurred by the state-run Cane and Sugar Fund’s to fund the price support program and the direct payment program.
On September 7, 2010, the Government approved 3.0 billion baht ($100 million) three-year soft loan for cane growers to buy harvesters to improve their efficiency. Currently, farmers have applied for approximately 2.0 billion baht ($66 million) of the loan. They have purchased both new and used cane harvesters mainly from the US and Australia. The U.S. harvesters account for around half of the market share. This will help increase harvest efficiency and overcome labor shortages especially as the additional new sugar facilities will increase milling capacity from 0.9 million tons of cane/day to 1.0 million tons/day in MY2012/13. In addition, the government is considering the extension of the soft loan program of 1.0 billion baht/year ($33 million) from 2012 onward for five years. As for import policy, Thailand subjects imports of sugar to a WTO tariff-rate quota regime of a 65 percent tariff rate under a quota of 13,760 tons. Meanwhile, the out-of-quota tariff is 94 percent.
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