The Reason Behind Low Exports of Asian Sugar Cane

Sugar Cane July 23, 2015
Author: Olga Minchina
Account Manager

Sugar cane is believed to be native to South and Southeast Asia, where the first records about sugar were found five thousand years ago. This plant is a coarse growing member of the Poaceae family, a seed plant family comprising economically important cultures, such as wheat, rice and maize.

Being tender to cold, sugar cane is cultivated primarily in the tropics and subtropics, with a minimum of 60 centimeters (24 in) of moisture per year. It is an essential industrial crop, grown in more than 90 countries. In addition to mechanical harvesting, sugar cane is often harvested manually, and is predominantly grown in developing countries.

Juice from sugar cane is predictably rich in sugar. Sugar cane derivatives include table sugar, falernum, molasses, rum, cachaça (the national spirit of Brazil), bagasse (fiber left over from the sugar refining process that can be used to make paper and cardboard) and ethanol.

Sugar cane juice is a staple of the Asian diet, and is considered to be one of Asia's traditional products. Sugar cane juice is a national drink in Pakistan, and is also well-liked and consumed in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam and Hong Kong. One can find this sweet, sugary drink being freshly squeezed in front of customers at numerous small street stalls across Asia.

Asian sugar cane is mainly consumed domestically. In 2013, extra-Asia exports accounted for only 0.0001% of domestic sugar cane output. A steeper decline in exports was registered, while imports marginally increased. Due to low trade intensity, imports and exports should not be regarded as strong factors influencing Asian market dynamics in the medium term.

In 2014, Germany (44 tonnes) and Egypt (20 tonnes) were the main destinations of extra-Asia sugar cane exports. The share of Poland increased significantly, the share of Egypt illustrated negative dynamics.

In 2014, Spain (4.9 thousand tonnes), Algeria (2.1 thousand tonnes), Italy (0.7 thousand tonnes) and Portugal (0.2 thousand tonnes) were the main suppliers of sugar cane imports, together making up 99% of total extra-Asia imports. However, the fastest growing suppliers from 2007 to 2013 were Italy (+148% per year) and Portugal (+63% per year). Algeria significantly strengthened its position in the Asian import structure, from 16% in 2012 to 26% in 2014.

Source: Asia: Sugar Cane - Market Report. Analysis And Forecast To 2020