India's sugar export, domestic sales hit due to coronavirus lockdown: ISMA

India’s sugar production declines over 20% till April 15 : ISMA reported. However, a major portion of the unmet import demand from Indonesia will come to India, which can see a spurt from June-July and may continue for another year or so.

Edited: 17th April 2020 08:42 PM 

India's sugar production down 30% :: IEG VuNEW DELHI: India’s sugar sales in both domestic and overseas markets have taken a beating in view of the nationwide lockdown imposed by the government for preventing the spread of the deadly COVID-19, industry body ISMA said on Thursday.

On domestic sugar sales, the industry body said sales and despatches of sugar have got “affected” due to the countrywide lockdown. Vasudev Bannerjee of Simbhaoli Sugars said, “Domestic demand is down by more than 30 per cent and there are hurdles in export markets, too. The industry could expect to gain some relief only after the lockdown is lifted and the supply chain comes back on track,” he added.

Impact of Fall in Overseas Demand

However, fall in overseas sales of sugar during the lockdown is expected to “partially or largely” get compensated by the extra sales to Indonesia, which is likely to meet its sugar demand from India in view of shortages in Thailand, it said.

Decline in Country’s Total Sugar Production YtoY

It added that the country’s total sugar production has now reached 24.78 million tonne till April 15 of the 2019-20 marketing year (October-September), down by 20 per cent from 31.17 million tonne in the year-ago period.

ISMA Clarifies Expecting Good Surge in Demand

At the same time Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) has clarified with the statement that “The exports have been affected due to sudden drop in global sugar prices, but the recent depreciation of rupee is giving some relief to the exporters,”.

It said that Indian sugar will also be in very high demand in Indonesia after it opened its market by giving preferential lower customs duty along with Thailand and Australia. Already, sugar is getting exported to Indonesia over the last few weeks.

It added that somehow a major portion of the unmet import demand from Indonesia will come to India, which can see a spurt from June-July and may continue for another year or so.

The industry body also mentioned that Indian exporters would have more sugar for shipments after the government reallocated the unexported quota fixed for the current year. For the current year, the government has allowed export of 6 million tonne of sugar under the quota to help deal with the surplus sugar.

Production figures estimate State wise 


2019-20 (SS)

(until Apr 15, 2020)

2018-19 (SS)

Uttar Pradesh

10.82 million tonne

10.55 million tonne


6.01 million tonne

10.67 million tonne


3.38 million tonne

4.32 million tonne

Tamil Nadu

4.95 lakh tonne

6.85 lakh tonne


8.80 lakh tonne

11.19 lakh tonne

Other States


3.18 million tonne


As per reports by Financial Express, in Uttar Pradesh, out of 119 sugar mills, 21 sugar mills have stopped crushing operations and 98 were in operations this year as compared to 103 mills that were in operation last year on the same date.It is learnt that several gur/khandsari manufacturing units in the state have closed their operations, thereby indirectly increasing the cane availability to the sugar mills for crushing in the current season by a few lakh tonne of sugarcane.

In Maharashtra, in the current 2019-20 SS, 136 mills have already closed their crushing operations and only 10 sugar mills were operating. On the corresponding date in last season, 6 mills were in operation in the state.
In case of Karnataka, 63 sugar mills have produced 3.38 million tonne. All the mills have closed their operations in the state. During the corresponding period last year, 67 sugar mills had produced 4.32 million tonne. In the special season last year from July, 2019, 1.05 lakh tonne was made.
In case of Tamil Nadu, out of 24 sugar mills which operated this season, 16 sugar mills have ended their crushing, though some might operate in the special season later in the year. In the special season last year, Tamil Nadu mills had made 2.13 lakh tonne.

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Resolutions to Ethanol Excess Supply

On supply of ethanol, the industry body said there were initial problems in offtake by oil marketing companies due to fall in petrol consumption during the lockdown period. But after quick intervention, the supplies were shifted to states and depots where requirement was there.

So ethanol has now started going to newer depots in Jharkhand, Bengal, MP, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, AP, Telangana and Kerala. Efforts are being explored to see if ethanol can be sent to Odisha and Assam too.

It added that the ethanol supplies/offtake have improved and it is expected that with newer depots taking ethanol, there will be adequate offtake as per contracts.

ISMA also mentioned that a majority of sugar companies decided to make hand sanitizers to supply to hospitals and institutions by using a part of the ethanol/ENA production, thereby ensuring that India does not face any shortage of good quality hand sanitizers.

“Some of them are supplying the sanitizers at cost price or even free of cost. With the State Excise department and State Drug Controllers giving full cooperation, this new segment of production of hand sanitizers has been successfully launched very quickly by most of the sugar companies,” it added.

On overall sugar production, ISMA said mills have produced 24.78 million tonnes of sweetener till April 15 of this marketing year, down from 31.17 million tonne in the year-ago period.

Of the total, sugar production reached 10.8 million tonne in Uttar Pradesh, 50.01 million tonne in Maharashtra and 3.38 million tonne in Karnataka till April 15 of this year. These are the country’s top three sugar producing states.