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China sugar imports forecast to drop by around half in 2012/13

Chinese sugar imports could drop by around half in the season to September 2013 on rising domestic output, competition from substitute sweeteners, high inventory and a slowing economy, a Reuters poll showed on Thursday.

The country will import 1.625 million tonnes of sugar in 2012/13, according to a median forecast of 10 analysts, down from 3.34 million tonnes recorded for the first 11 months of 2011/12, which has already exceeded the record 3.2 million tonnes full-year estimate from the International Sugar Organization.

China is the world’s second-largest sugar consumer after India, accounting for about 8 percent of global output.

“Sugar buying is unlikely to be active because tight credit has affected the food industry,” said Zhu Xiaoyan, an analyst with Tianma Futures Co in Beijing.

“Imports should be around 2 million tonnes, depending on the gap between local and global prices.

The Chinese economy hasn’t hit the bottom yet and food consumption is unlikely to jump.”

China’s economic growth probably slowed for a seventh straight quarter in the July-September period to the weakest level since the depths of the global financial crisis, a separate Reuters survey showed, reinforcing the case for further policy stimulus.

Estimates for sugar imports ranged from as low as 945,000 tonnes to as high as 2 million tonnes, with a mean forecast of 1.54 million tonnes.

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