Predicted price fall for sugar won't hit Irish plans

Caitriona Murphy

Campaigners for a return of sugar beet production in Ireland have insisted that a 12pc fall in global sugar prices next year would not affect the viability of any new Irish processing plan.

Analysts at the international agri bank Rabobank have forecast a 12pc fall in sugar prices next year, due to rising sugar production worldwide.

However, UCD professor Jimmy Burke, a member of the Irish Sugar Biorefinery Study Group, said the predicted fall in prices would not impact on the feasibility of Irish growers returning to sugar beet.

"At the moment, importing sugar into Ireland costs about €900/t. While a price reduction of 10-12pc would be sizeable, it would still leave sugar at around €800/t," said Prof Burke.

"In our feasibility study, we used a sugar price figure of €570/t, at which we could make a return on investment. There is plenty of room between €800/t and €570/t," he maintained.


Prof Burke said the long-term trend was for sugar demand to increase and for sugar prices to remain high.

"Europe is about 5m tonnes in deficit in sugar. With the increase in demand and prices, an extra 2.5m tonnes will be produced worldwide but Europe will still be 2.5m tonnes in deficit," he added.

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Meanwhile, the Rabobank 2012 outlook report said that slowing global economic growth next year would only have a modest impact on agri commodity prices.

'Outlook 2012 -- Down But Not Out' said resilient demand from emerging market countries would offset the anaemic growth expectations in the developed world.

The analysts said commodities such as livestock and cotton would be most vulnerable to slowing global growth, while commodities such as corn and coffee would be least affected by an economic slowdown.

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