Indian will remain a net-sugar-importer next season, as consumption remains above production despite a rebounding crop, US officials said.
The US Department of Agriculture's bureau in New Delhi forecast production to rebound by 18% in the 2017-18 season, to 25.8m tonnes.
But with consumption edging higher, to 26.00m tonnes, and a need to rebuild stocks, India will see no exports, and 500,000 tonnes of imports.
Planting to rise
Production in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, the country's top growing states, will rise, while production in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana will ease, as the effects of last season's drought lingers," the bureau said.
Assuming that the monsoon arrives on time, the bureau forecast cane planting to rise by some 200,000 hectares, to 4.7m hectares.
Planting is seen supported by a sufficiency of water in reservoirs, as well as lower farmer debt.
Cane yields are expected to rise by about 6 tonnes per hectare, to 64 tonnes per hectare, lifting national cane production by 15% to 330m tonnes.
But consumption to edge higher as well
The bureau sees consumption ticking up by some 400,000 tonnes to 26.0m tonnes in 2017-18.
Although the bureau trimmed consumption ideas for 2016-17 to 25.6m tonnes, due in part to the disruption of currency flows due to last year's demonetisation, this is still above other industry estimates.
The Indian Sugar Mills Association, and the Indian credit rating agency ICRA, forecasts consumption at around 24.0m tonnes, with the government suggesting consumption is even lower.
Tight market this season
Sugar production in 2016-17 is forecast at 21.9m tonnes, down by 8.4% on the previous estimate, and down nearly 20% year-on-year, and below consumption.
Imports in the current marketing year are forecast to reach 1.70m tonnes.
This month the Indian government announced the import of 500,000 tonnes of raw sugar outside the tariff system, in order to address the local shortage.