WASHINGTON — The US Department of Agriculture in its Jan. 12 World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report raised from December its forecast of 2022-23 US beet and cane sugar production, slightly lowered imports and left deliveries unchanged, resulting in a jump in the stocks-to-use ratio. 

The most significant change in the WASDE report was the US sugar production forecast at 9,248,000 short tons, raw value, up 209,000 tons, or 2.3%, from the December forecast and up 92,000 tons, or 1%, from 2021-22, which was estimated at 9,156,000 tons, up 19,259 tons from the prior month due to a like increase in cane sugar production in Louisiana. Beet sugar production in 2022-23 was forecast at 5,048,318 tons, up 120,819 tons, or 2.5%, from December, and cane sugar was forecast at 4,199,000 tons, up 88,216 tons, or 2.1%.

If realized, 2022-23 cane sugar production would be the highest on record, and total sugar production would be the second highest on record after 9,293,000 tons in 2017-18. 

“Because September production in Louisiana is a product of the 2022-23 sugar cane harvest, Louisiana production in 2022-23 is adjusted downward by the September 2022 amount but partially offset by an increase in projected production in September 2023,” the USDA said. “More significantly, Louisiana production is increased due to the January NASS (the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service) forecast of sugar cane for sugar production increasing by 5% over last month to 15,818,000 tons. Sucrose recovery is unchanged at 13.48%. Production (Louisiana) for the fiscal 2022-23 year is now 2,112,885 tons, up 88,216 tons over last month. Concerns about damage to the 20% or so of Louisiana’s sugar cane crop still in the field when freezing temperatures covered most of the state in late December did not appear to be borne out.

“NASS projects 2022-23 sugar beet production at 32,574,000 tons, a 2.65% reduction, based on lower area harvested and yield. Lower sugar beet production is more than offset by an increase in sucrose recovery. Based on sugar production data for August through November in the (USDA’s) Sweetener Market Data, USDA projects sucrose recovery at 15%. This is up from last month’s 14.626% that was based on historical trend.”

Sugar imports in 2022-23 were forecast at 3,458,000 tons, down 35,480 tons from December. Tariff-rate quota imports were forecast at 1,606,000 tons, down 85,943 tons, other program imports at 250,000 tons, unchanged, and imports from Mexico at 1,477,000 tons, unchanged.

“Sugar under the 2021-22 TRQ permitted to enter by the extension of the quota year to end of December was 164,225 tons and below that estimated last month by 85,943,” the USDA said.

High-tier imports in 2022-23 were forecast at 125,000 tons, up 50,000 tons from December. The increase in 2022-23 high-tier imports reflected “the pace of high-tier tariff refined sugar imports for the rest of the year and an increase in raw sugar high-tier imports recorded by Customs in December,” the USDA said.

Total 2022-23 sugar supply was forecast at 14,525,000 tons, up 178,027 tons, or 1.2%, from December and up 19,000 tons, or 0.1%, from 14,506,000 tons in 2021-22.

Forecast deliveries in 2022-23 were unchanged from November, including deliveries for food at 12,500,000 tons. Exports were forecast at 35,000 tons and “other” at 105,000 tons, both unchanged. 

Ending stocks in 2022-23 were forecast at 1,885,000 tons, up 178,000 tons, or 10%, from December and up 66,000 tons, or 3.6%, from 2021-22. The current-year ending stocks-to-use ratio was forecast at 14.9%, up from 13.5% in December and up from 14.3% in 2021-22.

There were no changes to import or delivery estimates for 2021-22. Miscellaneous adjustments were estimated at 81,000 tons, up 15,000 tons, partially offsetting higher cane sugar production, resulting in ending stocks at 1,819,000 tons, up 4,472 tons from December.

Changes from December to Mexico’s supply-and-demand forecasts for 2022-23 were minor, with domestic use lowered 759 tonnes, actual weight, exports raised 759 tonnes and ending stocks unchanged at 971,000 tonnes. There were no changes to 2021-22 estimates for Mexico.

“USDA estimates that the sugar production campaign through the end of December is at least 15% behind the pace established over the preceding nine years,” the USDA said in WASDE comments concerning forecasts for Mexico. “Although there is some confidence that the pace will be accelerated, the evidence to date is lacking. The pace of the campaign will continue to be closely monitored.”