EU becomes a net importer of sugar

After the sugar beet fields in the European Union suffer from pests and dry weather, the international community is becoming a net importer of sugar. The local fragile sugar industry is under pressure.
Sugar production in the EU and Great Britain is expected to drop from around 17 million tonnes in 2019 to 16.1 million tonnes, which is mainly due to lower sugar beet production in top producer France, estimates the French producer group CGB.
Yields in France are projected to decline 15% from the five-year average, largely because yellow rust, carried by aphids, has devastated fields across the country, said CGB analyst Timothe Masson.
Combined with a lower sown area, sugar beet production, which is also used to make ethanol fuel, would decrease from 38.6 million tonnes in 2019 to 31.7 million tonnes, bringing the French production of refined sugar from 4.9 million tonnes 4.1 million tons. As little as since 2003. The damage to the French sugar industry is estimated at 170 million euros.
Growers say the drop in yield could have been avoided if they had been allowed to use neonicotinoids, a pesticide that is banned in many parts of the European Union because it is believed to be harmful to bees.
The French Minister of Agriculture is now seeking an exemption for the pesticide on sugar beet in order to convince farmers to continue growing sugar beet. The sugar industry has still not recovered from years of poor returns due to a collapse in sugar prices.
The drop in yields is likely to be similar in the UK but would be partially offset by a 5% increase in space, said Arthur Marshall, senior commercial analyst at NFU Sugar. According to processor British Sugar BRSGR.UL, sugar production in the UK in the 2019/20 season was 1.19 million tonnes.
The effects of a neonicotinoid ban were less in Germany, but sugar beets suffered from dry weather this year, farmers said.
Germany's refined sugar production from beets in the 2020/21 season, which begins now, is expected to drop from 4.23 million tonnes last season to around 4.12 million tons, the German sugar industry association WVZ said in its first harvest forecast.
In Poland, the production of refined sugar was tentatively estimated from 2.0 million last season to around 2.2 million tons, which is a slightly higher sugar beet yield than a year earlier, said Rafal Strachota, director of the Polish beet growing association KZPBC.

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