The French sugar beet planted area will fall to 455,000 hectares for the October 2019-September 2020 season, down 6.2% on the year, the French Agriculture Ministry’s statistical and analysis unit, Agreste, said Tuesday.
The lower planted area could cut European production for the year, particularly combined with a lower UK planted area.
Analysts expect total sugar beet planted area in the UK to drop 10%, on the back of a reduced beet contract price. British Sugar and National Farmers Union Sugar agreed in September 2018 a UK beet contract price of GBP19.07/mt ($24.9/mt) for the 2019/20 season, down 9.2% on the year.
The European Commission’s ban on neonicotinoids has been upheld in both countries, increasing production costs for farmers and potentially resulting in lower yields.
As a result, total European sugar production in 2019/20 may fall from the 18.1 million mt S&P Global Platts Analytics has forecast for the 2018/19 season.
This could further support European prices, which have risen Eur130/mt since October 2018 on reduced production in the 2018/19 season and tighter availability.
It could also support European export premiums, with little surplus available for export, a source said. Premiums are currently heard at $25/mt over the May London No.5 white sugar contract, the highest since S&P Global Platts began its assessment in March 2018.
Better growing conditions than the dry, hot summer last summer could offset any reduction in planted area, an analyst said.
Sugar beet planting is nearly completed in France, where the Beet Growers Confederation (CGB) said that as of April 3, 98% of the expected beet area is completed. Beet planting has also progressed well in the Netherlands, reaching 20.4% as of April 1, up from only 0.7% a week earlier, according to Suiker Unie.