Sugar export curbs story-1697617879403
Domestic sugar prices have gained about 3 per cent so far this year, according to data compiled by India's food ministry. Image Credit: AFP

India, the world’s second-biggest sugar producer, extended its export restrictions in a renewed bid to protect domestic supplies, a move that’s likely to tighten the global market and raise costs for the food industry.

The government will continue its curbs on overseas shipments of the sweetener beyond October 31, according to a notice from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade on Wednesday, confirming a Bloomberg News report last week.

Quotas for exports
India introduced a quota system in 2022-23 and limited sugar exports to about 6 million tonnes after late rains cut production, compared with an unrestricted 11 million tonnes a year earlier.

It’s unclear at this stage the size of the quota, if any, for overseas shipments that will be allocated to millers for 2023-24.

Raw sugar futures are hovering near their highest level since 2011 on concerns about faltering supplies from India and Thailand. While the ban may cool India’s domestic prices, it’s a blow to global manufacturers of everything from fizzy drinks to chocolate and baked products.

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The Indian government is taking no chances with inflation, with several states heading for polls in the coming month ahead of the national election in 2024, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will seek a third term. The nation recorded its weakest monsoon in five years and any drop in agricultural output will heap pressure on authorities to control food prices.

The restriction doesn’t apply to sugar being exported to the European Union and the US under some quota systems, according to the notice.

Domestic sugar prices have gained about 3 per cent so far this year, according to data compiled by the food ministry. The government indirectly controls costs as it regulates the volume millers can sell each month.

According to a Bloomberg survey of 14 analysts, traders and millers last month, most said India may not export any sugar this season due to lower output. Two respondents said shipments could total at least 2 million tonnes.

India also restricted shipments of organic sugar, according to the notification.