• Thailand's Baanrai Sugar Industry Company said it saw production at just above 8 million tonnes.
  • The TCSC, which groups government officials, millers and farmers' representatives, also said it expected the crushing season to end around mid-March.
  • He said about 160,000 hectares had already been converted to cassava from cane.

DUBAI: Thailand, the world's second largest exporter of sugar, could see its production fall to between 8 million and 9 million tonnes in the 2019-20 season, industry executives said on Tuesday.

Thailand's Baanrai Sugar Industry Company said it saw production at just above 8 million tonnes, an estimate lower than that of the Thai Sugar Millers Corp. last month.

The Thai Sugar Millers Corp had said production was likely to fall 28pc year on year in 2019/20 to a nine-year low of 10.5 million tonnes as drought curtails cane supplies.

“10 million tonnes is too high, it may be a little bit more than 8 million," Baanrai Sugar Industry Managing Director Nuttapol Asadathorn told a three-day industry conference in Dubai.

Commodities trader Golden Agri-resources also put the figure at between 8-9 million tonnes while the Thai Cane and Sugar Corporation (TCSC) said production was closer to 9 million tonnes than 10.

The TCSC, which groups government officials, millers and farmers' representatives, also said it expected the crushing season to end around mid-March.

“Mills should be closed soon, I think before the middle of March," Apichat Laksanasirisak, General Manager of TCSC said.

Baanrai's Asadathorn also said he expected the sugar cane acreage for the 2020-21 season to drop by around 10pc, as farmers move to grow more profitable crops such as cassava.

“Cane prices are low and the weather is so dry at the moment," he said.

“Normally the farmers when they cut the cane they do planting at the same time but this year they are afraid that there is not enough water for cane to grow."

He said about 160,000 hectares had already been converted to cassava from cane.

Thailand's lower production is expected to limit exports and support global prices.