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USDA GAIN: Oilseeds, Cotton, Sugar, Grain and Feed

30 April 2013

USDA GAIN: Mexico Sugar Annual 2013USDA GAIN: Mexico Sugar Annual 2013

Sugar production for marketing year (MY) 2013/14 (October/September) is forecast to be slightly lower, at 6.36 million metric tons - raw value (MMT-RV), than in MY2012/13, as rainfall during the current cycle has been less than ideal. Sugar production for MY 2012/13 was revised upward to 6.62 MMT-RV due to higher yields. The sugar export forecast for MY 2013/14 is 1.6 MMT-RV. Exports for MY 2012/13 were revised upward to 1.5 MMT-RV. HFCS imports next year are expected to be similar to the current MY. Sugarcane growers have taken over the warehouses of almost all sugar mills in Mexico to prevent the sale of standard sugar at lower than $400 pesos/50 Kg bag ($31.22 dollar/50 kg bag).
USDA GAIN Report - Oilseeds, Cotton, Sugar, Grain and Feed

Sugar Cane for Centrifugal
Sugar, Centrifugal


The Mexican sugar industry expects sugar production levels for MY 2013/14 (Oct/Sept) to be slightly lower than in MY2012/13 as rainfall during the current cycle has been scarce. Although there is no official Mexican forecast for sugar production for MY 2013/14, the Post/New forecast is 6.36 million metric tons - raw value (MMT-RV). Final production will depend on timely maintenance of sugar mills, appropriate cultivation practices, weather throughout the growing season, and harvest conditions.

The Mexican National Committee for the Sustainable Development of Sugar Cane (CONADESUCA) issued the Second Estimate of Sweeteners Production for MY 2012/13. Accordingly, the Post/New estimate for MY 2012/13 sugar production is 6.62 MMT-RV (6.24 MMT-Actual Weight), which is a 10.2 percent increase from the first estimate (October 24, 2012) of 6.00 MMT-RV (5.66 MMT - Actual Weight). Sugar production has been better than expected due to timely rainfall in the Gulf coast and southeast regions and general good weather conditions. Mill yield estimates are expected at about 11.40 percent compared to mill yields of 10.92 percent in MY 2011/12. Some sources believe that these higher yields might produce even more sugar than currently estimated. The Post/New sugar production estimate for MY2011/12 remains unchanged at 5.35 MMT-RV.

CONADESUCA recently decided to compare sugar production in the current marketing year with an average of the last 5 marketing years to have a better comparison. Therefore their reports will now have comparisons to that average. CONADESUCA issued report # 21 on March 30, 2013, with information through week #26 showing that based on the first estimate, 66.58 percent of area has been harvested, 81.73 percent of sugarcane has been milled, and 80.76 percent of sugar has been produced.

A total of 54 mills are actively working during this cycle, across 15 of Mexico’s 32 states. There are three other mills that have not been in operation during the last several cycles due to diverse management issues. The cane that would have gone to these mills, however, has been diverted to other mills for processing so overall sugar production has not been affected. The three sugar mills that did not operate were Independencia, Concepcion, and San Gabriel in the state of Veracruz.

Growers are organized within two major unions that represent over 95 percent of all cane growers. These unions are the National Sugarcane Growers (affiliated with the CNC- a strong organization of peasants/small agricultural producers and is very close to the PRI Party) and the National Association of Sugarcane Growers (CNPR). All growers operate with contracts to deliver their cane to the mills. In exchange, they receive technical support and agrochemicals from the mills to grow cane. The industry has been fostering better working relationships between mills and sugarcane grower associations to better integrate overall sugar production.

Sugarcane Production

Although there is no official Mexican forecast for sugarcane production for MY2013/14, the Post/New forecast of cane to be industrialized is 53.0 MMT, slightly under Post’s cane production estimate for the current year. However, actual production will depend on appropriate cultivation practices, and weather throughout the growing season. Current low sugar prices may discourage management practices (e.g., less fertilizer applications) and expansion of production areas. The Post/New estimate for sugar cane production to be industrialized for MY 2012/13 was revised upward based on CONADESUCA’s Second Estimate, from 46.40 MMT to 54.79 MMT. The industry estimates overall cane yields at 71.36 MT/hectare (Ha) for MY 2012/13, higher than MY 2011/12 yields of 65.69 MT/Ha. Sugar cane production for MY 2011/12 remains unchanged.

As previously reported, virtually all sugarcane goes to the production of centrifugal sugar. Mills operate between November and May to coincide with the cane harvest. Although there is no official Mexican MY 2013/14 forecast for sugarcane planted area, the Post/New forecast is close to the previous marketing year, or 800,000 Ha. According to the information service SAGARPA/SIAP, area planted data includes area planted in past marketing years, as well as additional new areas, since the growing phase of this crop is approximately 18 months. In addition to sugar prices, area expansion will depend on weather conditions, production cost changes, and the level of continued investment by sugar mills. Post’s/New estimates for planted and harvested area for MY 2012/13 were revised upward to 786,304 Ha and 767,893 Ha, respectively, based on CONADESUCA’s Second Estimate. The Post/New MY 2011/12 planted area estimates were revised upward and harvested estimates remain unchanged.

Sugarcane Reference Price

Cane growers receive payment for their cane from sugar mills. The price is negotiated each year and is based on a complex formula involving sugar prices and other domestic and international market conditions. These factors are used to determine the Sugarcane Reference Price. According to Article 58 of the Law of Sustainable Development for Sugar Cane, approximately 57 percent of the Reference Price is paid to growers for their sugar cane. Throughout the year, depending on prices, two additional payments can be made to growers. The first opportunity is during the summer after mills have made significant sales. At the end of the cycle, a final adjustment is made, resulting in the next marketing year’s Sugarcane Reference Price and a potential final payment to growers. As announced by the Secretariat of Economy (SE) on October 26, 2012, the Reference Price to calculate sugar cane payments for the MY2012/13 crop is $10,617.72 pesos per MT (US$827.56/MT at $12.83 pesos per dollar exchange rate) which is 2.40 percent more from last marketing year price of $10,368.58 pesos per MT (US$768.61/MT at $13.49 pesos per dollar), (See Report MX 2076 -2012/13 Sugarcane Reference Price). As outlined above, the October 2012 Reference Price was used to calculate the final payment to growers for the previous cycle, as well as the first payment of the MY2012/13 cycle to growers upon delivery of the cane to mills.

Sugar Wholesale Prices

The SE, through the National Market Information Service (SNIIM), reports sugar prices on a monthly basis delivered to different cities in Mexico from different mills. The prices in Table 3 and 4 are for monthly prices of sugar delivered to the wholesale market in Mexico City on a 50-kilogram bag basis. Sugar prices suffered a steep decline (off nearly 40 percent) that began in August / September 2012. This decline resulted from domestic sugar oversupplies and the fall of international sugar prices. The decline caused concern in the sugar sector as domestic sugar prices have a strong impact on the eventual level of payments received by cane growers.

For this reason, on January 21, 2013 sugar cane growers decided to take over the warehouses of almost all sugar mills to prevent the sale of standard sugar at lower than $400 pesos/50 Kg bag ($31.22 dollar/50 kg bag), instead of the then prevailing average prices of $350 pesos /50 Kg bag ($23.41 /50 Kg bag). By January 23, most sugar departing mills was over $400 pesos/50 kg bag. The constant decrease of domestic sugar prices affects sugar cane growers as the cane payments are tied up with the standard sugar price which is used as a reference price to determine sugar cane prices for the marketing year. February and March prices, however, show that departing sugar barely kept the $400 pesos/50 kg bag target and tended to decrease despite efforts of the cane growers (See information from SNIIM on Table 6). Although March prices did go over $400 pesos/50 kg bag during the first two weeks, the last two weeks saw prices decline despite the efforts of cane growers. Some sugar for export purposes was affected by warehouse seizures as sugar cane growers also did not permit export sugar to be sold under $400 pesos/50 kg bag. Government authorities, cane worker unions, and industry leaders (mill owners and sugar trading firms) have been meeting regularly to reach a mutually agreeable solution. The government resurrected a sugar export promotion program operated by the private sector with government supervision. This program, known as FIDCAÑA, was created in 2008, but due to favorable prices, has not been called upon until now. As of now, most sugar mills have joined this fund, but the blocking of warehouses has complicated the effort.

HFCS Production

The Mexican high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) industry believes it will continue producing HFCS at almost the same levels as in the previous year. Although there were high corn prices at the end of 2012 the industry was confident that future corn prices would decrease, which is the case as of the writing of this report. Furthermore, CONADESUCA’s Second Estimate of Sweeteners Production for MY 2012/13 increases HFCS domestic production estimates to 470,034 MT dry basis from 462,380 MT dry basis in MY 2011/12, which is almost the maximum capacity the industry has. Industry members indicate that there is no additional HFCS manufacturing capacity being built or expanded in Mexico. Sources report that as long as HFCS prices remain competitive, it is easier and more financially prudent to import the remainder of the HFCS demand.

The Mexican HFCS industry produces fructose with domestic and imported U.S. yellow corn. According to IDAQUIM, the industry group that represents HFCS producers, this industry consumes about two million tons of yellow corn of which 80 to 90 percent is imported. The Government of Mexico continues to encourage forward contract purchases between Mexican farmers and yellow corn buyers in an attempt to increase domestic production of yellow corn. The United States will remain the main supplier of corn to Mexico.

Sugar and HFCS

Assuming current pricing trends for sugar and exchange rates, and slightly lower availability of sugar next year, the sugar industry could expect sugar consumption for MY 2013/14 to be slightly lower compared to MY 2012/13. Therefore, the Post/New forecast for domestic consumption for MY 2013/14 is 4.64 MMT-RV. Consumption will also depend on the substitution of sugar by HFCS. The Post/new domestic sugar consumption estimate for MY 2012/13was revised upward to about 4.66 MMT-RV which is an increase of 4.8 percent over the USDA/Official previous estimate. Substitution between sugar and HFCS will likely result in a 10.4 percent decrease in HFCS consumption in MY 2012/13. The sugar industry believes that sugar consumption is increasing due the availability of sugar at lower prices. However, sources are still unsure about the consumption data since the warehouse takeovers have made it difficult to keep good statistical numbers. The domestic sugar consumption estimate for MY 2011/12 remains unchanged.

HFCS has been replacing sugar consumption in several industries including soda bottling (the largest user of HFCS) over the last few years. During MY 2011/12, HFCS consumption increased about 5 percent to 1,720,655 MT dry basis from MY 2010/11 consumption. However, for MY 2012/13, HFCS consumption is expected to decrease about 10.4 percent compared to MY 2011/12 levels, due to the sugar oversupply and resulting low prices. CONADESUCA estimates HFCS consumption for MY 2012/13 at 1,541,300 MT dry basis. This volume represents about 26 percent of total domestic consumption of sweeteners.


The Post/New sugar export forecast for MY 2013/14 is 1.6 MMT-RV. This number is tentative and will tend to change depending on production and the extent of substitution between sugar and alternative domestic and imported sweeteners (HFCS). These are the two major factors influencing local supply and, consequently, local price—currently the biggest influence on export decisions.

The sugar sector has been concerned about domestic sugar oversupplies and falling international sugar prices. These factors have combined to reduce domestic sugar prices by 40 percent in CY 2012. In fact as mentioned above, the sugarcane growers have demanded that surplus sugar must be exported in order to stop the downward pressure on prices, but have also requested a minimum of $400 pesos/50 Kg bag ($31.22 dollar/50 kg bag). The industry and the Mexican government are aware of the need to export sugar, therefore the Post/New estimate for MY 2012/13 was revised upward to 1.59 MMT RV of sugar from previous USDA/Official estimates. The industry believes that approximately 1.27 MMT-RV could be destined to the NAFTA market and the rest sold to the international market. However, as U.S. and international prices are also low, Mexico will be hard pressed to export sugar at acceptable prices. The Mexican government put in to operation a trust fund to export sugar surplus called FIDCAÑA, as mentioned above, to help support sugar prices, and most sugar mills have signed on to the program. However, sources indicate that it has not been able to operate effectively, due in large part to the warehouse blockades. According to official sources, from October 2012 to March 2013, sugar exports have amounted 665,044 MT-RV (627,400 MT-Actual Weight) which represents an increase of 56.5 percent compared to the same time in the previous MY. However, final exports will vary depending on prices, final production and the extent of substitution between sugar and alternative domestic and imported sweeteners (HFCS). The sugar export estimates for MY 2011/12 remain unchanged from the previous estimate.

The Post/New sugar import forecast for MY 2013/14 is estimated at 140,000 MT-RV, as domestic supplies are expected to be good. A large portion of these imports could be used to cover the needs of the Mexican Sugar Re-export Program industries (IMMEX [1] ). IMMEX sugar users will likely substitute more domestic sugar for imported sugar, compared to the previous two years when imports for IMMEX were larger. The MY 2012/13 sugar import estimate is revised downward from the USDA/Official estimates to 170,000 MT-RV due to higher domestic supplies. Sugar imports for MY 2011/12 remain unchanged from the previous estimate.

Sugar use under the “other disappearance” category is mainly for the Mexican re-export program (IMMEX). The Post/New forecast for MY 2013/14 for sugar use under IMMEX is expected to be at 300,000 MT-RV similar to MY 2012/13 sugar use. According to sources, the same industries will be using imported sugar for the processing of their products. Post/New MY 2012/13 sugar use for IMMEX industries is estimated at 300,000 MT-RV and Post/new estimates for MY 2011/12 for sugar use under IMMEX is 269,000 MT-RV. The IMMEX program allows sugar to be sold to Mexican food manufacturers as a raw material for further processing. These food manufacturers must then process the sugar within six months of the date of purchase (see GAIN Report MX8035 Modifications to the Mexican Sugar Re-Export Program) and export the processed product. Although this report does not consider these products when calculating sugar exports, the Government of Mexico classifies the sugar containing products sold under the IMMEX program as exports of sugar.

HFCS Imports

The HFCS import forecast for MY 2013/14 is expected to be similar to that of MY 2012/13, as sugar prices are expected to remain low. The HFCS import estimate for MY2012/13 is expected to decrease about 14.5 percent from MY 2011/12 imports due to the low sugar prices. HFCS imports for MY 2011/12 increased 7.5 percent to 1.28 MMT dry basis from MY 2010/11 imports. The soft-drink bottling industry continues to benefit from the difference in price between sugar and HFCS. The official estimate for imported HFCS is 1.19 MMT dry basis for MY 2010/11.


The Post/New sugar ending stocks forecast for MY 2012/13 and MY 2013/14 are expected to be higher than the historical average, due to higher sugar production. MY 2013/14 stocks are forecast at 1.17 MMT-RV. However, sugar prices and exports will determine the final data. The Post/New sugar ending stock estimate for MY2012/13 are likely reach 1.26 MMT-RV based on CONADESUCA’s second estimate. Stocks for MY 2010/11 were revised slightly downward from USDA Official data.


The government published in the Diario Oficial (Federal Register) on July 23, 2012 an agreement to release nine sugar mills from Federal ownership and control in order to sell them by public tender. (Report MX 2057 “Mexico Takes Steps to Privatize State-Owned Sugar Mills”). The nine mills announced in this publication are the last to be divested by the government. Since expropriation, these mills have been owned and administered by FEESA (Fund of Expropriated Companies from the Sugar Sector) and have generally been responsible for 20-30 percent of Mexico’s annual sugar production. However, according to recent talks with the industry, the new administration is considering a change in strategy, since this time of low sugar prices is not an ideal time to sell. In addition, the sector is in the middle of the sugar harvest.

Ethanol Production

There have been no changes in the ethanol production situation in Mexico since MX0068 Sugar, Sugar Cane and HFCS Situation was published in October 2010. The Biofuels Law, which first passed the Mexican Congress on April 26, 2007, and was amended in October 2007, was published in the Diario Oficial on February 1, 2008. As previously reported, the Law contains a comprehensive biofuels policy that promotes ethanol production from different agricultural commodities. According to the sugar mill industry, ethanol production from sugar cane in Mexico is neither feasible nor profitable due to the high price of cane, the need for the vast majority of production to be used for centrifugal sugar, and the lack of a domestic ethanol market. There are, however, provisions within the Sugar Law that contain overall goals focused on the possibility of producing ethanol. Thus far, necessary government policies have not been implemented.

April 2013

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