French 2016 beet area to increase
PARIS - France's beet growing area should rise to about 400,000 hectares next year as sugar firms plan to produce more before the abolition of European Unionquotas in 2017, growers group CGB said on Thursday.
PARIS - France's beet growing area should rise to about 400,000 hectares next year as sugar firms plan to produce more before the abolition of European Union quotas in 2017, growers group CGB said on Thursday.
This would be a rise of about 4 percent on this season when growers planted 382,858 hectares in the European Union's largest sugar producer.
CGB said some sugar makers had contracted extra area with farmers with a view to stocking some 2016 production to sell after the end of European Union quotas in October 2017, CGB Director Alain Jeanroy told reporters.
As part of a reform of the EU's farm policy, member states agreed to liberalise sugar output in 2017 and to abolish minimum sugar beet prices blamed for limiting exports. Sugar producers have said they aimed to lift sugar output and exports.
France has the potential to export 1-1.5 million tons of sugar a year outside the EU in the post-quota era, compared with about 400,000 tons forecast for 2015/16, the CGB said.
To expand shipments outside the EU, the French beet sector would have to look at ways to support output, such as attractive prices for farmers and longer production runs for sugar plants, Jeanroy said.
Prices contracted for this season would leave growers on average just covering production costs, and the CGB is lobbying for the EU to allow collective contracts in the post-quota period to give farmers visibility, he said.
Extending the production season for sugar beet should also allow more capacity and let manufacturers reduce their unit costs, Jeanroy said, adding that this would however create constraints for farmers in harvesting their crop later.
CGB put the French 2015 sugar beet crop at 32.9 million tons, based on an average yield of about 87 tons per hectare, down last year's harvest of over 37 million tons.
The farm ministry last month estimated the new crop at 32.6 million tons.
Forecasters have been anticipating a smaller crop this year due to a fall in the planted area and the impact of very dry, hot weather this summer that stressed crops.
The volume of sugar derived from the beet crop was seen at 3.5 million ton in 2015/16, of which 1.4 million tons would be exported to other EU member states, the CGB said.
The sugar beet crop would go towards ethanol output of around 5 million hectolitres (hl) and alcohol around 4.5 million hl, it said.