The European Union is heading for a significant drop in sugar output this year after fields were devastated by pests and dry weather, making the bloc a net importer and pressuring a fragile sugar industry, analysts say.
Sugar production in the EU and Britain is set to fall to 16.1 million tonnes, down from about 17 million in 2019, mainly due to lower sugar beet output in top producer France, French growers’ group CGB estimates.
Yields in France are expected to fall by 15% compared to the five-year average mainly because jaundice transmitted by aphids ravaged fields across the country, CGB analyst Timothe Masson said.
Growers say the drop in yields could have been avoided if they had been allowed to use neonicotinoids, a pesticide banned in many parts of the European Union because it is believed to be harmful to bees.
France’s farm minister said he planned a derogation to use the pesticide on sugar beet in a bid to convince farmers not to turn away from the crop. The sugar industry is still trying to recover after years of poor returns due to a slump in sugar prices.