Thailand's cane output hits 10-year low

Thailand’s cane output in the 2019/20 season was the lowest in a decade, as prolonged drought undermined yield, a Thai cane and sugar agency said on Wednesday.

It is reported by Reuters.

Thailand, the world’s second-largest sugar exporter after Brazil, crushed 74.89 million tonnes of sugarcane in the season that ended earlier this month, producing only 8.27 million tonnes of the sweetener.

The cane volume was the lowest since Thailand produced 68.4 million tonnes in the 2009/10 season, said Veerasak Kwanmuang, director of the Office of the Cane and Sugar Fund.

“The ongoing drought since last year has been worse, undermining yield per plantation. Low domestic cane prices have also encouraged farmers to turn to other crops,” Veerasak told Reuters.

Veerasak said he expected Thailand’s cane production in the next season to further decline by around 20%, as prolonged drought continues to hurt plantations well into this year and the world’s economy is hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in a decline in global demand for sugar,” he said.

Sugar futures prices have been declining since late February, due to lower consumption linked to lockdowns in many countries and weaker demand from ethanol producers following the recent dive in crude oil prices.

Cane planting is already underway in some provinces in Thailand ahead of the 2020/21 season, for which crushing will start in December.