Philippines sees more sugar exports to non-US markets

by Erik dela Cruz, Reuters

Posted at Sep 02 2011 02:48 PM | Updated as of Sep 02 2011 10:48 PM

* Output seen at 2.4 million tons in 2011/2012, nearly flat vs 2010/11

MANILA, Philippines - The government expects sugar output in crop year ending August 2012 of around 2.4 million tons, nearly flat from the previous year, and may sell the sweetener to other countries on top of its US quota for a second year in a row, a senior official said.

The Southeast Asian country closed the 2010/11 crop year on Aug. 31 with total raw sugar output of 2.39 million tons, the highest in three years and up 21% from 2009/10.

"We are now working together with sugar planters and millers to determine the ideal export allocation for 2011/12 crop year," Regina Bautista-Martin, chief of state agency Sugar Regulatory Administration, told Reuters in a phone interview on Friday.

"There will be more exports on top of our sugar quota commitments to the US," she said.

The United States has set an annual import quota for the Philippines of 144,901 tons raw value (MTRV) unit for 2011/12 and 224,549 MTRV for the just concluded crop year.

The US bought an extra 42,578 tons this year on top of its 2010/2011 sugar quota.

The Philippines' non-US quota exports this year had risen to 137,109 tons as of Aug. 31, from about 121,000 tons two weeks earlier, SRA figures showed.

Taiwan buys

Japan accounted for the biggest volume of non-US quota exports, with purchases of 56,278 tons raw sugar, said Rosemarie Gumera, manager at SRA's policy and planning unit, adding other countries in the region also sought supply from the Philippines.

"Taiwan has emerged as the new buyer of Philippine sugar, getting a small volume of 150 tons," Gumera said in a separate interview.

South Korea has so far bought 12,080 tons raws from the Philippines, while purchases by Indonesia reached 19,198 tons, she said.

Rising supply in Thailand and other sugar producers, including India and the Philippines, is seen offsetting a fall in sugarcane output in Brazil, the world's biggest sugar exporter.

The Philippines can sell more than 300,000 tons of sugar this year, including the refined variety, about 100,000 tons above a previous target for non-US quota exports, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said last month.

Thailand, the world's second-biggest sugar exporter, could produce a record 100 million tons of sugar cane in 2011/12, which would yield around 10 million tons of sugar.

The prospect of more sugar purchases from China after a prolonged drought hit its main growing region could support premiums for Thai raw sugar, which have been under pressure from sales from the Philippines and the anticipated record 2011/12 output.