Sugar Report at 30 November 2009
• 2009 – 2010 Price scenarios.
• Harvest results up to 21 November 2009.
• Weekly market.
2009 – 2010 Price scenarios
In the last 15 days, various official organs and private enterprises such as traders and sugar trading companies have made a series of estimates with relation to the size of the global sugar deficit for the 2009/2010 harvest. From the interpretation of these estimates, we have extracted two general conclusions which will in turn form the basis of our own analysis of domestic prices. The present analysis is carried out starting from the assumption that the world economy is in a process of recovery after having lived through one of the most severe economic crises of the last few decades. This scenario of global economic recovery benefits variable behavior in Mexico and although market opinion shows that Mexico still faces serious obstacles before being completely out of the crisis, global inertia helps us understand somewhat that marginal variable movements such as interest rates and exchange rates will not affect to any great degree the general standpoint of our analysis.
In the first place, if the total of the sugar deficit reaches the level of close to 10 million tons proposed by some of the big traders, then what can be expected is a level of elevated prices due to the difference between the supply and the greater demand for sugar, and the expectation of a lack of sugar in the markets. In this first supposition we consider that the main producers on a world level will not manage to recover the capacity of supply to cover the demand. Because of the above, it can be expected that the futures prices of sugar will follow an upward path.
In Mexico, if domestic prices get to the point where they drop so much that it would be a good idea to look outside of the country, then it will be very necessary for mills to seriously examine the possibility of exporting, as with the previous harvest when a considerable amount of sugar was exported principally to the USA.
The re-establishment of export quotas could once again cause short supply in the domestic market and the possibility of new quota allocations at the end of the 2009/2010 harvest. This will be the alternative to cover the possible sugar scarcity. In our second scenario, if the main countries manage to recuperate their supply capacity, with the reopening of credit as the economic crisis starts coming to an end, we would see the world sugar deficit diminishing, accompanied by a drop in prices in futures markets. Taking the above into account, those contracts would follow a downward trend with a fall in investment in said titles and in Mexico an international ambience of prices being adjusted downward, in relation to the level they reached during this year, would slow down sugar manufacturers and make them fulfill export quotas allocated and thus domestic supply could be satisfied.
Maximum levels were reached in September 2009 and since then floor prices in Mexico have been on a downward trend. We would like to point out that there are clear expectations of greater volumes of sugar in the markets because of the start of the harvest at the same time that there is sugar arriving for importing.
The following graph shows the price trend in the last sugar cycle. From March 2009, prices started to rise, due mainly to the fact that the pressure generated by the higher sugar payments sought by sugar producers impeded the free flow of sugar to the markets through the taking over of bodegas in the mills. This generated a speculative wave in the markets due to a lack of sugar. Once the harvest in Mexico finished, prices continued on an upward path, motivated on this occasion by expectations of scarcity generated by the departure of additional sugar abroad to the deficient US market, in similar amounts to that necessary for the protection of domestic supply. Towards the end of the year, prices have started to drop, motivated basically by the entry of sugar for import needed to cover the short supply, and by the start of the harvest which generates the perception of over-supply of sugar in the country.
To foresee a future trend, it is necessary to analyse the price direction in the United States, given that if international prices are more attractive than domestic ones, then mills should be seriously looking at exporting to this market once again.
On doing a comparative of Mexican and US prices, we can see that during the 2008/2009 harvest, prices in the USA remained constantly above domestic prices, a situation which was made the most of by Mexican mill owners looking for larger profits. It must be remembered that Mexican mills were coming out of a two-year period of consistent losses.
At the end of the third trimester of this year, the table shows that the price in the USA has reverted its trend and the Mexican price is now more elevated than the US price. The Model: To forecast data from a technical point of view, we have used a simple linear regression model. The dependent variable is the percentage change in the price of refined sugar in Mexico; the independent variable is the percentage change in the price of refined sugar in the United States. In other words, what we will try to forecast is the price that sugar would be in Mexico were there changes in the price of sugar in the United States; we know from the start that higher prices abroad are what sugar manufacturers are looking for in order to export. The basis of the analysis is Table 3 and we have chosen the columns with the price of refined sugar in both countries. On following the basis of the model we have obtained the following results:
The conclusions of the model show the following: a= -18180.86192 b= 2.427326645
With the knowledge that the last price registration in the USA for November was estimated at 12 thousand 600 pesos per ton, we calculate three different scenarios for prices in Mexico with three possible prices in the United States:
Scenario 1. If the price in the USA fixes itself at the equivalent of 13 thousand pesos per ton, the model demonstrates that the price in Mexico could be placed at close to 13 thousand 400 pesos per ton – a price which, for the margin of difference, is not very favorable for exportation. The interpretation of this first scenario tells us that given the more or less constant behavior of variables such as the exchange rate and a global sugar deficit of close to 5 million tons¹ , the expectation of sugar shortages on a world level will not be so strong as to radically increase prices. In the face of prices demonstrating a horizontal trend, it is not an attractive option for local mills to sell to external markets and therefore domestic demand could be wholly satisfied.
Scenario 2. If the price in the USA reaches 14 thousand pesos, the Mexican price could go up to 15 thousand 800 pesos. In this second interpretation, we can see that the price in the United States has increased because of a negative recovery expectation with respect to the supply potential to the world market of the main producers. The global sugar deficit could reach 10 million tons. Under these conditions sugar futures prices once again show an upward tendency and the mills decide to turn to the United States market to do business. With this scenario, the possible sugar shortage will cause prices to increase in Mexico.
Scenario 3. If the price falls to 11 thousand pesos per ton in the USA, the price in Mexico could react by fixing itself at only 8 thousand 500 pesos per ton. In this last scenario, the global sugar deficit is relatively low (3 million tons) which creates expectations of a full global supply. This would mean that international prices would tend towards a downward trend. Investments in sugar futures lessen as titles lose their attractiveness and on a domestic level the establshing of nothing more than the normal export quota guarantees a complete supply of sugar as well as a downward price trend in local markets.
¹Traders and official organizations at an international level place the global sugar deficit at between 3 and 10 million tons for the 2009-2010 season.
Conclusions: The selected model not only fits technical analysis but the simple linear regression also measures the correlation between variables that respond to proper market behavior. Although the model is restricted by the low number of variables, the results show that it reflects very closely market behavior.
Harvest results up to 21 November 2009
Production information for the new 2009/2010 harvest continues to arrive. By strictly taking the first week of October as the start of the new harvest, production data presented in this report correspond to week 8 of the official calendar. According to information from cane producing associations, the factories that are now in operation are Adolfo López Mateos, Atencingo, Aarón Sáenz, Casasano, Constancia, El Carmen, El Higo, El Mante, Emiliano Zapata, Huixtla, Melchor Ocampo, Zapoapita, Pujiltic, Quesería, San Miguel del Naranjo, San Francisco Ameca, San Nicolás, Tamazula and Tres Valles. There were expectations in the sugar agro-industry in October that the harvest would begin without any setbacks. Today, looking at real figures, we can observe a delay in production compared to the previous harvest and armed with the knowledge that said harvest was beset with problems as much in the field as in the factory, the information submitted should be interpreted as a reflection of possible problems which threaten to off-rail production forecasts in the country.
Although it is true that in the same week of last year only a little under 27 percent of sugar which has to date been harvested was produced (7 thousand 647.50 tons), these two weeks with negative differences lead one to believe that problems such as the mills’ lack of capital and the problems caused by the weather in various states are complicating the situation at the beginning of the harvest. This year, in contrast to last year, sugar is being produced in the states of Tamaulipas and Jalisco. However, in the last cycle (in contrast to this one), there were already production figures being reported from mills in Michoacan and San Luis Potosi.
Information per State
According to information from SAGARPA, at 21 November 2009 the following mills are crushing: Melchor Ocampo, Tamazula, Adolfo López Mateos, Aarón Sáenz and Tres Valles. They have recorded a Harvested Area of 3,889.97 hectares and an industrialized volume of 306,986.42 tons of Gross Crushed Cane, as well as a Sugar Production of 20,718.95 tons. To the list of Producer States published last week, we can add Veracruz and Oaxaca. However, the difference in production this cycle compared to the 2008/2009 is equivalent to (-) 7 thousand 647.50 tons of sugar as in the previous cycle they had already produced 28 thousand 366.45 tons. In the same way, a difference of (-) 1 thousand 560.88 harvested hectares and (-) 64 thousand 998 tons of crushed cane can be observed.
Table A.1 -PRODUCTION RESULTS PER STATE UP TO 21 NOVEMBER 2009 (WEEK 8.) Current Harvest vs Previous Harvest
Veracruz stands out, when looking at production per state, for having a delay of 62.59 percent in sugar production, since in the same week of last year it had already processed close to 121.1 thousand tons of cane, resulting in a production of 10 thousand 477 tons of sugar compared with the 3 thousand 919.85 tons of the new cycle.
Compared to the previous harvest, in this crushing we already have figures from the Aaron Saenz mill in Tamaulipas. This factory leads domestic sugar production with close to 7 thousand tons of sugar, with Tamazula in Jalisco in second place, with a production of 4 thousand 500 tons. Tres Valles in Veracruz is in third place with 3 thousand 900 tons. We would like to mention that the Atencingo mill has not issued production figures for its new harvest; however there is sugar from this mill on the market already. While the Aarón Sáenz, Melchor Ocampo and Tamazula mills have advanced their harvests compared to last year, the Adolfo López Mateos and Tres Valles are behind with a sugar production of between 50 and 60 percent. The Lázaro Cárdenas, Pujiltic and San Miguel del Naranjo mills have not yet reported preliminary figures, in spite of having started production in Week 8 of the 2008/2009 cycle.
Table A.2 -RESULTS PER MILL UP TO 21 NOVEMBER 2009 (WEEK 8.) Current Harvest vs Previous Harvest
Within the efficiency data we find field yield and factory yield. In comparative terms, in this harvest there is an increase in the amount of cane harvested per hectare to the tune of 10.68 tons/ha. In the 2008/2009 cycle there was a total of 68.24 tons/ha harvested compared to the current 78.92 tons/ha. Climactic conditions at the start of the harvest have not been unfavorable, pointing to the overtaking of the production levels in the field. The mills that have already started working are already surpassing last year’s average. Mills in production have already produced molasses to the order of 7 thousand 134 tons. This figure is 973 tons less than that produced in the same week of last year. The average Karbe level to date recorded in the 5 factories in production is 70.76 points, 8.11 points less than the level reached in week 8 of the previous harvest.
Table A.3 -FIELD AND FACTORY. Main variables at 21 November 2009 (Week 8.) Comparison of 2009/2010 harvest vs. 2008/2009 harvest
Finally, as can be seen in the following table, sugar production per mill and quality of product refer to the fact that to date in the current period, a total of 18 thousand 589 tons of refined sugar and of 2 thousand 131 tons of standard sugar has already been produced in the Melchor Ocampo mill.
Table A.4 -SUGAR QUALITY PER MILL AT 21 NOVEMBER 2009 (WEEK 8.)
Compared to the total amount of sugar produced in the 2008/2009 harvest, there is a difference of (-) 7 thousand 646 tons of which (-) 6 thousand 402 tons are refined. It is expected that the production figures from mills in production but not yet registered will considerably increase production figures for the coming week. Finally, we note that sugar producing associations and the government estimate close to 5.1 million tons of sugar while the CNDSCA and Zafranet estimate around 4.97 million tons, this figure being perhaps the ceiling for production for this harvest. The data is becoming more dynamic at the onset of the 2009/2010 harvest.
In the domestic market there is almost no sugar in storage from the previous harvest, and the few bodegas that still have some inventory, only count on sugar of substandard quality (that is used mostly for recycling which corresponds to a very specific niche market). Even though this short supply suggests an increase in prices, the reality is that sugar imports have stopped prices from going up. Since October average standard and refined sugar prices at the four main supply centers in Mexico have dropped by close to 4 percent and only in the Central de Abastos supply center in the Federal District has the price of refined sugar dropped by 8 percent. We estimate a more accelerated price drop now that new production figures are being made known from most of the mills in the country and as inventories are filling up little by little in the various markets.
STANDARD. At the end of the week of 23 to 27 November, the average floor price of standard sugar in the four main centers for sugar trading in Mexico demonstrated a slight downward trend. It is retailing at 596 pesos per 50 kg bulk. The average of the four main supply cities in the report maintain a difference of 110 percent compared to the original price at the beginning of the year. The current average is 312 pesos higher. Local quotes are from 587 pesos to 600 pesos.
REFINED. The average price is 661 pesos. The price of a refined bulk today has not changed and still shows a difference of 94.5 percent compared to the price recorded in the first days of January, equivalent to 319.50 pesos of the original price. There is, however, an evident price deviation in refined sugar in the supply center of the Federal District, given that only refined from Portero is mentioned but in reality it is very scarce – there is practically nothing in existence. Therefore the small quantity that reaches this market is too highly priced compared to other markets in the country.
The moving average
price of sugar in the Federal District remains on a negative trend below 590 pesos for standard grade and on a horizontal trend at 660 pesos for refined sugar.
In the graph we can observe the behaviour of floor, wholesale and FOB at the mill prices of refined sugar in the Central de Abasto in Mexico City. Since mid-November, we can see a bigger gap between the wholesale and FOB at the mill price. We can interpret this as due to a greater pressure from expectations of sugar over-supply at the beginning of the harvest causing the WHOLESALE price to drop to levels below those of the THEORETICAL FOB AT THE MILL price which is normally less than the wholesale price. With inventories almost empty and with the expectation of the balance of sugar being imported, the price trend will show greater drops which could grow towards the first trimester of 2010 due to the greater supply in existence with the harvest at its peak.