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Brazil’s Port Congestion to Worsen Sugar Supply Tightness

Brazil Sugar Export

Santos, Brazil - October 31, 2023

The ongoing congestion at Brazil's major ports, known for their agricultural commodities exports, is poised to compound the existing tightness in the global sugar market, causing concerns among both producers and consumers alike. Delays of up to 35 days to load sugar at the Santos port have already been reported, and if unfavorable weather conditions persist into November, this predicament could drive sugar prices even higher.

Brazil, the world's largest sugar producer, is grappling with logistical woes that threaten to disrupt the global sugar supply chain. The situation has been further exacerbated by production problems in other key sugar-producing nations, including India, Thailand, Mexico, and the United States, which have all experienced adverse weather conditions.

According to industry experts, the difficulties in sugar logistics are expected to persist. "If it is not a production deficit, it is a logistical deficit because Brazil cannot export its entire production. This is the situation this year, and it is likely to persist into the next," stated a leading industry analyst.

These challenges in Brazil have significant implications for global sugar prices, as they have already contributed to pushing raw sugar prices on New York's ICE exchange to a 12-year high. While the market has already factored in the existing port congestion, the situation could worsen if the rainy season in Brazil, typically running through March or April, brings heavier than usual rainfall.

Brazil's current weather patterns, influenced by the El Nino phenomenon, suggest that southern regions, home to some of the country's most crucial ports, may experience a wetter-than-normal season. This could further exacerbate the delays at the ports, given their vulnerability to inclement weather.

One silver lining is that the peak export period for corn and soybeans, which also rely on these ports, is coming to an end. If the region does not experience excessive rainfall, it may provide a window of opportunity for the ports to expedite sugar loadings. This prospect will be closely monitored by the sugar industry and global markets as they grapple with the ongoing challenges in the sugar supply chain.

The situation in Brazil, coupled with production issues elsewhere, underscores the fragility of the global sugar market and the need for contingency planning to ensure a stable and consistent supply for consumers around the world. As the industry keeps a vigilant eye on the weather conditions in Brazil, the future of sugar prices remains uncertain.

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