India, the world’s largest sugar consuming nation, may import a record of six million tonne in the 2009-10 season due to a sharp dip in domestic production, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in a report.

Last season, the country is estimated to have purchased 2.8 million tonne sugar from the global market, it said. Sugar season runs from October to September.

“Assuming relatively stable international sugar prices, India’s sugar imports during 2009-10 are forecast to reach a record six million tonne, of which about five million tonne will be raw sugar and one million tonne will be refined sugar,” the USDA projected in its latest report titled ‘Sugar: World production, supply and distribution’

Quoting industry sources, the report said mills have already contracted about 2.5 MT of raw sugar for imports in the first quarter (October-December) of the 2009-10 season.

This apart, traders have contracted another 3,00,000 tonne refined sugar for import, it said.

“Given the concerns on tight domestic supplies, the government may enhance the quota for imports of white sugar from the current one million tonne limit,” the report said.

The USDA further said the additional contracts for imports have slowed down considerably because the current higher prices in the global markets, which are relatively higher than the domestic prices.

“However, import prospects are expected to improve from December onwards after the ‘artificially’ suppressed domestic sugar price rise on tight sugar supplies,” it observed.

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