Sugar demand falters in peak season due to virus curbs

‘Prices fell 0.8% in 2019-20 because of lockdowns’

India’s sugar consumption during the peak demand season is set to fall for a second straight year after various States imposed restrictions, including restaurant and shop closures to halt rising cases of COVID-19, industry officials told Reuters.

Lower demand could increase inventories in India, the world’s biggest consumer of the sweetener, and may put downward pressure on local prices.

Lower domestic sales could force mills to export more sugar in the next marketing year, putting pressure on global prices as well.

“The second wave of coronavirus has been disrupting the market during the peak demand season. Purchases by bulk buyers have been falling,” Praful Vithalani, president of All India Sugar Trade Association (AISTA), told Reuters.

Consumption of cold drinks and ice cream, and as a result, demand for sugar, rises in India during the summer months that run roughly from March to June.

Sugar demand, which usually rises by more than 1% each year, fell 0.8% in 2019-20 to 25.3 million tonnes because of one of the world’s strictest lockdowns imposed last year in March.

Demand from bulk consumers had recovered to normal levels by the end of 2020 but started falling again this month due to uncertainty over coronavirus-led lockdowns, said Ashok Jain, president of the Bombay Sugar Merchants Association.

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