TRAVERSE CITY, MICH. — Forecast refined beet sugar stocks and raw cane stocks indicated “plenty of stocks into next year,” Barb Fecso, director, dairy & sweeteners analysis, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency, said at the International Sweetener Symposium, sponsored by the American Sugar Alliance, on Aug. 6.
Ms. Fecso said fiscal 2018 (2017-18) refined beet sugar stocks were forecast at 117% of fiscal 2008-17 average ending stocks and raw cane stocks were forecast at 140% of the average. In addition, she said refined cane sugar stocks, estimated at 75% of the 2008-17 average indicated low demand currently for refined cane.
She reviewed the process used to make recommendations concerning the U.S. sugar program, which has included maintaining a U.S. sugar ending stocks-to-use ratio between 13.5% and 15.5%. She noted that initial production estimates from sugar producers tend to be high, while early U.S.D.A. estimates for demand tend to be low.
Ms. Fecso reiterated that the U.S.D.A. will take only “baby steps” if needed when adjusting sugar import quotas, which in the case of tariff-rate quotas can’t be reduced once increased. She noted that adjustments to the T.R.Q. and other changes that boosted U.S. sugar imports and supply about a year ago turned out to be “a little on the high side.”
She said the fiscal 2019 (2018-19) ending stocks-to-use ratio forecast for the North American Free Trade Agreement region at 15% was on par with that of 2014 and 2015.