Thailand's Sugar Set to Benefit From Ramadan Demand

Thailand, the world’s second- biggest sugar exporter, is set to benefit this year from Muslim nations’ demand before Ramadan because the crop in top global producer Brazil will start later than usual.

The harvest in Brazil’s main growing region, which normally starts in April, will begin on May 1, according to ICAP do Brasil Ctvm. Muslim nations, which usually stockpile sugar before the fasting month of Ramadan, may seek supplies from Thailand as production there climbs to a record for a second year, according to data from the Office of the Cane & Sugar Board. Ramadan starts on July 20 this year.

Vessels waiting today at Brazil’s main ports are scheduled to ship 352,300 metric tons of sugar to Muslim nations, data from shipping agency Unimar Agenciamentos Maritimos Ltda. show. That compares with 889,369 tons at about three months to the start of Ramadan last year, according to the data. Thailand is scheduled to ship 25 percent more sugar to Muslim countries in March and so far in April compared to the same period last year, broker and researcher Kingsman SA said, citing shipping data.

“With the crop in Brazil delayed by about a month and white sugar production here set to pick up only in June, Muslim nations will probably take advantage of the surplus in Thailand at the moment to stockpile ahead of Ramadan,” Nicolle de Castro, a commercial assistant at Santos, Brazil-based consultancy SA Commodities, said by phone yesterday.

Thai Sweetener

Sugar production in Thailand will probably reach 10.5 million tons in the 2011-12 season started in November, beating the 10.3 million tons predicted in late February, Prasert Tapaneeyangkul, secretary-general of the Office of the Cane & Sugar Board, said in an interview on April 12. Output reached 10.1 million tons as of April 23, according to the board’s website. About 36 of Thailand’s 47 sugar mills are likely to have ended crushing for the marketing year by the end of April, according to F.O. Licht GmbH.

White sugar delivered against the expired May futures contract on NYSE Liffe in London totaled 263,950 tons, exchange data show. As much as 106,700 tons were from Thailand, according to the data. ED&F Man Capital Markets was the sole receiver of the sweetener, according to data on NYSE Liffe’s website.

Rains forecast for this week have prevented the start of the harvest in the center south, Brazil’s main growing region, according to weather forecaster Somar Meteorologia. Growers in the South American country will harvest 509 million tons of sugar cane and produce 33.1 million tons of sugar in the 2012-13 season, industry group Unica has forecast.

“For now, some of the Ramadan demand is being met by Thailand, but once the crop in Brazil starts, the bulk of the Ramadan shipments will be met by the center south region,” Fabienne Pointier, an analyst at Kingsman, said by phone from Lausanne, Switzerland, yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Isis Almeida in London at ialmeida3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Deane at jdeane3@bloomberg.net

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