India’s sugar stocks have hit rock bottom. There is about 4.5 million tonnes left, just enough to meet the demand till the upcoming festive season, a government official said on Monday.
The government is struggling to tide over the potential shortage and check a further spike in its price.
“It’s hand to mouth. We are fighting a battle,” a top official said.
Supply will be augmented with the fresh import of 3.1 million tonnes of sugar from Brazil and Thailand, a source said, but that would barely amount to a third of the projected shortfall in domestic production this year.
India consumes about 24 million tonnes of sugar annually. Production in the current sugar season (October 2008 –September 2009) is estimated at 15 million tonnes.
That leaves the country with a gap of 9 million tonnes — even after using up the entire stock held by the government and manufacturers.
Experts fear not only a spike in prices in coming months but also a shortage of sugar.
Fresh imports through four state-run companies that trade in food — STC Ltd., Nafed, PEC and MMTC Ltd. — comprise 2.9 million tonnes of raw sugar and a small amount — 2 lakh tones — of white sugar.
About 34,000 tonnes of white sugar have landed, the official said.
The government usually maintains secrecy over sugar imports so that international sellers do not jack up prices.