The outlook for the European sugar sector is not good at the moment, according to the director-general of the European Association of Sugar Manufacturers (CEFS). “It is really a difficult period of time with a lot of uncertainties,” Marie-Christine Ribera told EUobserver in an interview. The Brussels-based lobby group’s main concern – and that of the entire sector – is the historically-low market price for sugar. “It’s going down and down and down,” said Ribera.
According to the most recent figures from the European Commission, the average EU price for white sugar was €346 per tonne in July. This is a decrease of 30.9 percent compared with 12 months earlier, when the average EU price was €501 per tonne. Since December 2017, the average price is below the EU’s reference price of €404 per tonne – although this reference is used merely as a guide and no longer has “any practical significance”, according to Josh Gartland, who is CEFS’ trade, economic & social affairs adviser.
“The price drop results partly from global oversupply, but also from the abolition of EU production limits,” the European Commission said in its short-term outlook for EU agricultural markets , published last summer. Monday 1 October marks one year since the EU abolished sugar quotas, which had been a feature of the bloc’s common agricultural policy since 1968.
“I am confident that, since the end date for sugar quotas was decided, the industry has positioned itself well to benefit from the opportunities which the end of sugar quotas presents,” EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan said last year . But one year on, the head of the sugar producers’ group CEFS is less positive. “At the moment, we don