EU sugar output could drop further as growers turn away from beet
- Farmers turning away from beet amid low global sugar prices
- Neonicotinoid ban could also dent yields, reduce plantings
Sugar production in the European Union could drop sharply in 2019/20 as farmers consider slashing plantings and switching to other crops amid depressed prices, industry participants said on Tuesday.
European producers are not planting extra beet area and some are turning to other crops offering better returns, Martin Todd, managing director at LMC International, told the International Sugar Organization’s annual seminar in London.
“Growers are finding beets are no longer the attractive crop it always was,” Todd told attendees.
The ISO has forecast the EU will produce 17.9 million tonnes of sugar in the 2018/19 season, down from 19.7 million in the previous season. The inter-governmental body has not yet issued a forecast for 2019/20.
Historically, farmers typically planted extra area to ensure they are able to meet their contracts with processors if weather conditions dented their crop.
“You’ve seen people tighten up on area to deliver as near to contract as possible,” said Michael Sly, chairman of Britain’s National Farmers’ Union.
“Sugar beet used to be one of the best paying crops in the rotation. That’s unlikely to be the case going forward.”
German farmers have reduced plantings by 7 percent in 2018 and could cut back further next season if prices remain depressed, said Hans-Joerg Gebhard, chairman the country’s sugar industry association WVZ