AVENTURA, FLA. — Analysts at the International Sweetener Colloquium on Feb. 26 forecast mostly steady to firm cash sugar prices for the 2019-20 marketing year, which begins Oct. 1, 2019, and continued slow sales.
Bulk refined beet sugar prices were forecast at around 35c a lb f.o.b. Midwest, and refined cane sugar prices were forecast at around 37c f.o.b. Northeast by Frank Jenkins, president of JSG Commodities, and Craig Ruffolo, vice-president-commodity specialist, McKeany-Flavell Company. They suggested that downside price potential was limited for next year due in part to current stock levels.
Forecast prices for 2019-20 were about flat with spot prices.
Sugar sales for next year have been slow to date, and neither speaker saw a reason that sales would pick up any time soon, suggesting sales likely would remain slow until the beet crop is planted and more is known about the new crop. Mr. Ruffolo estimated that less than 20% of potential 2019-20 coverage has been taken to date.
“But when you come to the table, you better be ready to buy,” Mr. Ruffolo told the group of mostly sugar users at the meeting. He also said that flooding was likely in the key Red River Valley this spring, which could delay sugar beet planting and reduce the amount of new-crop beet sugar available in the current marketing year (before Oct. 1).
Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Ruffolo said the U.S. Department of Agriculture will lower the U.S. 2018-19 ending stocks-to-use ratio to 13.5% in the March World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report and adjust imports from Mexico down accordingly.
Demand for sugar continued to be a challenge to forecast, but there was expectation that refined beet and cane sugar deliveries for 2018-19 would be about flat with the prior year and a bit below the latest U.S.D.A. forecast of a 0.6% increase.