Sugar Demand Will Be Driven By Asia, Bunge’s Coviello Says

Global sugar demand will be driven by Asia partly on population growth, according to Bunge Ltd.

Per capita consumption of sugar in China is 11 kilograms (24 pounds) and in India 21 kilograms, said Rob Coviello, executive director of the sugar product line at Bunge. That’s below the 34 kilograms in developed countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, he said.

“Demand for corn and soybeans is led by Asia and we see the same in sugar,” Coviello said at the International Sugar Organization’s conference in London today.

If sugar consumption in China rose to match India’s, it would take about 50 percent of Brazil’s exports, he said. Brazil is the world’s largest sugar exporter and India is the biggest consumer and second-largest producer. Coviello works in the London office of White Plains, New York-based Bunge.

Brazil, Thailand and Australia will keep driving global sugar output, he said, adding that Brazil faces challenges to meet demand because both sugar and ethanol are made from sugar cane in the country.

The South American country has become a net importer of ethanol, particularly from the U.S., as cane output fell, he said. It may have to import the biofuel in the next four to five years, especially in the period between crops, he said.

Sugar cane output in Brazil will drop for the first time in 10 years to 488.5 million metric tons, according to the Brazilian industry group Unica.

Bunge, which invested in Brazilian sugar and ethanol, is “looking for opportunities outside Brazil” in the sugar industry, according to Coviello.

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