Farmer Birbal Singh works in a sugar cane field in Asmoli, Aug. 6, 2009. Photographer: Keith Bedford/Bloomberg
Aug. 10 (Bloomberg) — Damaged crops from India to Brazil mean the world won’t have enough sugar for a second straight year.
Global demand will exceed output by as much as 5 million metric tons in the year through September 2010, leading to a record two-year shortfall, according to the International Sugar Organization in London. Parts of Brazil, the largest grower, are drenched by rainfall four times more than normal and too wet to harvest. India, the biggest consumer, had its driest June in 83 years and may double imports.
The number of options to buy sugar for delivery in March at 30 cents a pound, 44 percent higher than the Aug. 7 price in New York, has jumped more than 18-fold in four months. The rally is boosting expenses for food makers from Kellogg Co. to Kraft Foods Inc. and increasing profits for Cosan SA Industria e Comercio, the largest cane processor.
“I haven’t seen sugar fundamentals being so severely unbalanced in my time,” said Adam Leetham, the Gurgaon, India- based director of Czarnikow Group who has been tracking the domestic industry since 1994. “It’s not just India. You see fundamental deficits in a number of large markets. It certainly looks like we will enter uncharted territory.”
Hedge funds and other large speculators more than doubled net-long positions, or bets prices will rise, to 206,330 contracts this year, the most since a record 240,792 in January 2008, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show.
Sugar surged 76 percent this year, reaching 20.85 cents a pound last week, the highest since April 1981. Bajaj Hindusthan Ltd., India’s biggest producer, predicts it may reach 25 cents by yearend, and Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd. estimates 30 cents.
The number of 40-cent call options for March 2010 has quintupled to 18,800 contracts in the past four months. A call contract gives the holder the right but not the obligation to purchase a commodity at a given price by a specific date.
Global use may rise 1.3 percent to 161 million tons in the 2009-2010 marketing year, surpassing production of 156.9 million tons and draining inventories, according to Macquarie Bank Ltd. in London.
“Sugar is certainly going to go much, much higher during the course of the bull market,” Jim Rogers, chairman of Rogers Holdings, said in an Aug. 6 interview in Singapore. “Sugar is still 70 percent below its all-time high and not many things in life are 70 percent below what they were in 1974. Sugar has a wonderful future.”
Read moreSugar Rallies 40% in Options, Price Surged 76% This Year