The government expects the robust performance to continue in the next season also.
“We have contracted 5.7 million tonnes out of which 5.5 million tonnes have been already dispatched from mills. We expect contracts of further 5-6 lakh tonnes before the season ends,” said Subodh Kumar Singh, joint secretary, food ministry. India had a target to export 6 million tonnes.
He said that the record export has been possible due to better coordination between ministry, millers and transporters during Covid-19 pandemic.
“Export shot up due to sustained demand at global market,” Singh said.
The highest sugar export before this was in 2007-08 when India shipped 4.9 million tonnes.
Singh said sugar export was likely to be in the same range in the next season also.
“We expect production of 32.5 million tonnes of sugar next season (October 2020-September 2021) with surplus of 6-6.5 million tonnes. The carryover stock of 1 million tonnes will further raise need for exports,” he said.
The government’s decision to extend subsidy of Rs 6,268 crore for export of 6 million tonnes sugar also encouraged mills to ship excess sugar.
Exports have risen due to opening up of Indonesian market for the first time and Malaysian market after long time. The traditional markets like East Africa, Bangladesh and Middle East also reacted positively during Covid pandemic.
“Due to drastic drop of sugar output in Thailand owing to drought, Indonesia and Malaysia which are primarily served by Thailand, had to import sugar from India. Apart from that, Iran also imported sugar in large quantities. Iranian and Indonesian imports together comprise 1.2 million tonnes while Malaysia imported sweetener in small quantity,” said Abinash Verma, director general, ISMA, an industry body.
He said that the global price of imported sugar ranged between Rs 19-23 per kg ex mill making imports viable.
“Rupee deprecation also helped the cause. Now, India has been able to instil trust among global importers that the country can consistently import 5-6 million tonnes without putting pressure on prices,” Verma said.