WASHINGTON — The US Department of Agriculture in its Nov. 9 World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report forecast higher US sugar production in 2023-24, lower imports and just slightly higher total supply and ending stocks.

The USDA forecast 2023-24 sugar production at 9,229,000 tons, up 260,000 tons, or 2.9%, from October based on record-high beet sugar production at 5,363,000 tons, up 211,290 tons, or 4.1%, and slightly higher cane sugar production at 3,866,000 tons, up 48,947 tons (all in Louisiana), or 1.3%. If realized, cane sugar production still would be down 196,000 tons, or 4.8%, from 2022-23 as higher production in Florida only partially offsets lower production in Louisiana and Texas. 

Total sugar imports in 2023-24 were forecast at 3,130,000 tons, down 147,000 tons, or 4.5%, from October with lower tariff-rate quota imports and lower imports from Mexico only partially offset by higher high-tier imports. TRQ imports were forecast at 1,457,000 tons, down 160,573 tons from October (to account for the Philippines allocating all of its sugar for domestic use and none for export), imports from Mexico were forecast at 1,199,000 tons, down 85,610 tons “on lower refined sugar slated for the US market,” high-tier imports were forecast at 275,000 tons, up 100,000 tons, and other-program imports were forecast at 200,000 tons, unchanged.

Total US sugar supply in 2023-24 was forecast at 14,234,000 tons, up 12,345 tons from October but down 450,000 tons, or 3.1%, from 14,684,000 tons in 2022-23. 

Total sugar use in 2023-24 was forecast at 12,665,000 tons, unchanged from October, including deliveries for food use at 12,525,000 tons, exports at 35,000 tons and “other” at 105,000 tons.

Ending stocks in 2023-24 were forecast at 1,569,000 tons, up 12,345 tons, or 0.8%, from October but down 306,000 tons, or 16%, from 2022-23. The 2023-24 ending stocks-to-use ratio was forecast at 12.4%, up slightly from 12.3% in October. It should be noted that the USDA is set to “rebalance” for a 13.5% ending stocks-to-use ratio in the December WASDE, which can include changes in any of the categories.

For 2022-23 the USDA estimated sugar production at 9,249,000 tons, up 12,000 tons, based on beet sugar at 5,187,000 tons, up 19,000 tons, and cane sugar at 4,062,000 tons, down 7,000 tons. Total imports were forecast at 3,614,000 tons, up 30,000 tons, based on TRQ imports at 1,862,000 tons, up 28,000 tons, high-tier imports at 455,000 tons, up 2,000 tons, other-program imports at 141,000 tons, unchanged, and imports from Mexico at 1,156,000 tons, unchanged. Total sugar supply in 2022-23 was estimated at 14,684,000 tons, up 43,000 tons from October.

Total sugar use in 2022-23 was estimated at 12,809,000 tons, up 145,000 tons from October, including deliveries for food at 12,473,000 tons, down 2,000 tons, exports at 82,000 tons, up 12,000 tons, “other” at 116,000 tons, down 3,000 tons, and miscellaneous at 138,000 tons, up from zero.

Ending stocks were estimated at 1,875,000 tons, down 102,000 tons, or 5%, from October, with the ending stocks-to-use ratio at 14.6%, down from 15.6% as the October estimate.

As expected, the USDA lowered its forecast of 2023-24 sugar production in Mexico as drought persists, although some in the trade think the number will be lower still. Mexico’s sugar production was forecast at 5,330,000 tonnes, actual weight, down 245,000 tonnes, or 4.4%, from October but up 106,000 tonnes, or 2%, from 2022-23. Imports were forecast at 434,000 tonnes, up 112,000 tonnes, or 35%, from October and up 149,000 tonnes, or 52%, from 2022-23. 

Domestic sugar use in Mexico was forecast at 4,648,000 tonnes, down 51,000 tonnes from October, and exports were forecast at 1,051,000 tonnes, down 73,000 tonnes (including 1,026,000 tonnes to the United States and 25,000 tonnes to other destinations). Ending stocks were forecast at 900,000 tonnes, down 9,000 tonnes from October but up 65,000 tonnes from 2022-23.

There were no changes in 2022-23 sugar supply and demand estimates for Mexico.

Overall, trade sources tended to agree with the higher US beet sugar production forecast for 2023-24, some doubted the cane sugar increase, and uncertainty remains about imports as most doubt Mexico’s ability to meet the US export limit that will be adjusted in December. Some also believe the US sugar deliveries for food use should be lowered for both 2022-23 and 2023-24.