Sugar shortage looms large
By Hong Ngoc and Ngoc Hung - The Saigon Times Daily
HCMC – The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has voiced concern over the severe shortage of sugar for domestic consumption towards the year’s end as strong export of the commodity to China is depleting the local stock.
As of the middle of this month, the local inventory had tumbled to 355,000 tons, or 170,000 tons lower than that in the year-ago period. The depleted stock resulted from strong export of sugar to China, calculated at 157,000 tons in one month from March 15 to April 15 alone.
Therefore, the domestic market will face short supply of sugar in August or September, when the demand often surges due to the Mid-Autumn Festival, according to the agriculture ministry.
However, the ministry’s worry contradicts its own stance two months ago when it joined forces with the Vietnam Sugar Association to press the Ministry of Industry and Trade to allow for sugar export.
The agriculture ministry in February supported sugar producers to ship abroad 100,000 to 150,000 tons of sugar so that they had funds to purchase sugarcane from farmers.
Between now and the end of the sugarcane crushing season, local producers are expected to produce an additional 195,000 tons. Given the current stock at 355,000 tons plus 70,000 tons to be imported under Vietnam’s commitment with the WTO, the total domestic supply until the new season will be around 620,000 tons, merely enough for local demand if sugar export is to be completely halted.
However, if the sugar export tempo continues, local confectionery makers will be hungry for the commodity from August.
Current factory sugar prices have inched up by some VND200-500 a kilo to VND16,500-17,500 while the retail price has hit VND23,000 a kilo.
So far this year, local sugar producers have turned out nearly 1.12 million tons of sugar, an increase of 78,700 tons year on year.
The sugarcane season normally begins in October and ends in May.