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Thanks to the pandemic, Indians will consume 5% less sugar during 2020-22

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AgenciesAs per industry estimate, industrial sugar demand accounts for 60% of consumption in the country.Indians will likely consume 5% less sugar in the 2020-22 period as a direct result of demand loss due to the pandemic, industry veterans said Monday. That translates into 2.6 million tonnes of the primary sweetener.

This loss of demand is in addition to the already declining trend of sugar consumption in the country due to the perceived health risks associated with excess consumption of the commodity.

Ravi Gupta, president, Shree Renuka Sugar, while speaking at a webinar organised by the Technology Transfer Association, said that against an expected consumption of 26.11 million tonnes in 2019-20, India consumed 25.3 million tonnes of sugar, down 3%.

Similarly, in 2020-21, against an expected consumption of 26.63 million tonnes, the actual demand stood at 25.4 million tonnes, down 1.2 million tonnes. In 2021-22, against the expected demand of 27.16 million tonnes, actual demand is likely to be 25.8 million tonnes, down by 1.4 million tonnes.

Thus, the cumulative fall in sugar consumption during 2020-21 and 2021-22 is expected to be 2.6 million tonnes against the cumulative expected sale of 53.79 million tonnes, down by 4.83%.

Industry veterans attributed the fall in consumption to restrictions on large gatherings for celebrations like weddings, parties etc, which are the occasions of indulgence in sweets. Also, lockdown across most of the country during two consecutive summer seasons has made a big dent on sugar sales as sales of ice creams and cold drinks were badly hit. As per industry estimate, industrial sugar demand accounts for 60% of consumption in the country.

Maharashtra, the second largest sugar producing state, has seen a fall of about 35% in the domestic sugar sales due to the pandemic and other trade related factors.

“As compared to our annual domestic sugar sale of about 70 lakh tonnes to 75 lakh tonnes, the 2020-21 sale was down by about 25 lakh tonnes. Demand loss due to the pandemic being the prime reason, other factors included loss of Maharashtra’s traditional domestic markets to the sugar mills from Uttar Pradesh,” said Sanjay Khatal, managing director, Maharashtra State Cooperative Sugar Mills Association.

As India’s sugar production has been increasing every year, with a stagnant growth in consumption, the country has been struggling to deal with the surplus sugar stocks. “Sugar demand in the domestic market is growing at just about 0.5 million tonnes per annum. In a normal sugar year, India makes about 5 million tonnes of extra sugar than the domestic requirement,” said Ravi Gupta.

The annual sugar consumption of the country increased from 208 lakh tonnes in 2010-11 to 256 lakh tonnes in 2014-15, after which, it has remained stagnant. The average per capita per annum sugar consumption of Indians is 19 kilograms as compared to the world average of about 23.5 kilograms.


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