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India May Halt Sugar Imports as Production Surges

April 20 (Bloomberg) -- India, the biggest sugar consumer, may cease to be an importer next year as domestic production surges on increased cane planting, a producers’ group said.

Output may surge to at least 23 million metric tons in the season starting Oct. 1 from an estimated 18.5 million tons this year, Vinay Kumar, managing director of the National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories Ltd., said in a phone interview. A stockpile of 3.5 million tons from the 2009-2010 season may add to supplies, he said.

India became a net buyer of the commodity since 2008 after sugar cane growers switched to planting wheat and oilseeds, and last year’s drought ravaged crops, pushing prices in New York to a 29-year high in February. Higher output in the Asian country may pressure prices that have tumbled 43 percent from the peak amid bets that global production will rebound.

“India will have adequate supply next year as production prospects for the next season look promising,” Kumar said in a phone interview. “I don’t see any need to import next season.”

White sugar for August delivery fell $1.50, or 0.3 percent, to $495.10 a ton in London at 6:05 p.m. Mumbai time, lowering intraday gains of as much as 1.7 percent. Raw-sugar futures for delivery in July dropped as much as 1.2 percent to 16.85 cents a pound in after-hours trading on ICE Futures U.S.

Output climbed 23 percent to 17.1 million tons in the Oct. 1 to April 7 period after late rains improved yields in the top cane-growing states of Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, Kumar said. Production this season may total 18.5 million tons, he said.

Mills and traders have imported 3.4 million tons, including 775,000 tons of white sugar, since Oct. 1 and shipments of about 1.2 million tons are in the pipeline, he said. Consumption may total 23 million tons in the next season, Kumar said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Kutty Abraham at tabraham4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Poole at jpoole4@bloomberg.net

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