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2023/24 European Union sugar production estimated up despite lower area in France

21.11.2023 23:35 "Agro Perspectiva" (Kyiv) European Union beet sugar production for 2023/24 is forecast at 15.5 million tons from nearly 1.4 million hectares of sugarbeets. This would be a 3 percent increase in production compared to 2022/2023, despite a forecast 6 percent reduction of beet acreage in France. In the last 5 years, France

accounted for 28 percent of total EU sugarbeet area harvested on average. However, the reduced beet acreage in France is forecast to be balanced by increased plantings mainly in Poland (+ 19 percent), Spain, Romania, Slovakia, and Hungary. On January 19, 2023, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Member States cannot grant temporary emergency authorizations for the use of banned neonicotinoids on sugarbeets. This has caused many French farmers to switch to other crops.

Neonicotinoids are used to contain aphids that spread the beet yellow virus (BYV) a disease that can cause dramatic yield losses. There are no other reliable alternatives insecticides for this disease. In 2022, 14 Member States reportedly granted conditional derogation from the neonicotinoid ban for sugarbeet seed. Despite the lack of these crop protection products, the profitability of sugarbeet production in Poland is high relative to alternative crops such as wheat and corn. Two sugar processing plants are expected to resume operations in Romania and a potential increase in coupled support from the

government could also boost beet plantings. Expected favorable prices will also encourage more farmers in Hungary and Spain to plant. The European Union is the third largest sugar producer behind Brazil and India and is estimated to be the fifth largest importer for the second year in a row EU imports in 2023/24 are forecast to decrease 500,000 tons to 2.5 million tons. Imports in 2022/23 started at levels higher than the previous year’s and continued to increase towards the end of 2022 when global prices significantly rose. There has been an influx of Ukrainian sugar due to the EUs solidarity lanes initiative, measures taken to help export Ukrainian agricultural goods via all possible routes, and the current one-year temporary trade liberalization scheme that suspended tariffs and quotas on agri-food imports from Ukraine. Exports grew by 10 times, compared to the 44,000 tons in 2021/22. Exports for 2023/24 are forecast unchanged at 905,000 tons. These export levels reflect the continued limited domestic supplies in the EU, constrained by the summer drought and high EU prices.

The main EU export destinations are the United Kingdom, Israel, Albania, Turkey, and Switzerland.

Stocks are forecast at 1.4 million tons, 10 percent more than the year before

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