12 January 1999
Weather hits Europe’s sugar beet

COLD and wet weather has struck at Europes sugar harvest.

The latest forecast for the European Unions 1988-1989 campaign is expected to report in at 17.4 million tonnes – against 19m tonnes last season.

Netherlands, Germany and Belgium have all been badly hit by freezing weather which has damaged the beets sugar content.

Dutch sugar output is forecast at 830,000 tonnes, against last seasons figure of more than 1m tonnes.

The UK is reported to have had some difficulty with fields becoming waterlogged.

The beet campaign starts in September and is usually over by January, although it tends to end later in the UK because of the more temperate climate.

The European Unions beet crop accounted for about half the worlds beet sugar output in 1997-98 and 15% of global sugar production.

The lower harvest is unlikely to affect prices, which remain depressed.

Global sugar supply has outstripped demand since 1993-94 and most estimates put the 1998-99 balance at a surplus of 2m-3m tonnes.

The US Department of Agriculture takes a more optimistic view, however, believing there will be a supply deficit of 1m tonnes.

  • Financial Times 12/01/99 page 30