Europe will have to import more sugar

Audio 01:59

Sugar beet.


By: Claire Fages Follow

5 mins

The calamitous launch of the beet campaign in France illustrates this very well: Europe will run out of sugar in 2020-2021.

And the 27 will have to import more from Latin America, or even Africa.


The two French sugar giants Tereos and Cristal Union have announced it: with beet yields in free fall, less 10 to 50% depending on the region - due to drought and aphid invasions, which have not been destroyed this year by neonicotinoids - the volume of the beet harvest should be reduced by 15% throughout the country.

France is the leading producer of beet sugar in Europe.

The Old Continent " 

will have to import more sugar to balance its balance sheet

 ", confirms Thierry Masson, in charge of markets at the General Confederation of Beet Planters joined by RFI: 2.6 million tonnes, against 2 million tonnes in 2019 -2020, or 30% more.

South Africa already supplies Europe

Will the sugar produced in Africa go to Europe?

This is already the case and by several routes.

First, the free trade agreement between the European Union and South Africa allows the southern African country to ship a tariff-free quota of 150,000 tonnes, and this will again be the case this year.

In addition, the least developed countries can ship sugar-free and quota-free to Europe.

More sugar from African and Asian LDCs if prices are attractive

Mauritius shipped 200,000 tonnes last year, Eswatini, the new name for Swaziland, even more, far ahead of Mozambique 50,000 tonnes, Malawi 20,000 tonnes and Zambia 10,000 tonnes.

All these countries could in theory export more to Europe, as could the Asian Least Developed Countries, such as Cambodia and Laos.

The price offered by Europe must still be attractive enough for them, otherwise they will remain positioned in their regional, African or Asian market.

Brazil, Central America and Andean

: big winners in the European market

Latin American sugar is expected to meet European demand most abundantly.

Brazil, the world's largest exporter of sugar, has benefited from a larger quota since the enlargement of the European Union: 750,000 tonnes.

It is a safe bet that it will take advantage of the increased competitiveness that the weakness of its currency, the real, gives it to exploit this contingent to the maximum.

At the same time, Central and Andean America - Colombia, Guatemala, Peru, Panama - has been gaining market share in Europe year after year since 2014 and the signing of free trade agreements with the EU.

Already last year, this region of America exported 280,000 tonnes, the equivalent of a large European sugar factory, underlines Thierry Masson.

A candy and a half, if we add the least developed countries of Latin America that are Belize and Guyana.


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