Sweet relief as sugar supply in S'pore unlikely to be hit by India's export limit

Sugar prices in Singapore have remained stable in the past few months, according to supermarkets. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Singapore consumers need not worry about sugar supplies despite India's decision on Tuesday (May 24) to restrict sugar exports for the first time in six years to prevent a surge in domestic prices.

While India is the world's biggest sugar producer and the second biggest exporter behind Brazil, industry players told The Straits Times that Singapore imports minimally from the country.

Mr John Cheng, a director at sugar manufacturing business Cheng Yew Heng, said the company imports sugar from countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea and Australia. Imports from India make up less than 5 per cent.

Cheng Yew Heng is a major importer of sugar here and the country's oldest sugar manufacturer.

A spokesman for sugar importer Hiang Li Traders similarly said Singapore mainly sources its sugar from Thailand and Malaysia.

The spokesman said: "Sugar from India makes up a minimal amount of the local market. So we really shouldn't be affected by India limiting exports."

She added that India regularly imposes sugar export limits towards the end of the year.

She said: "India sugar is harvested once a year. Usually around September, it imposes export quotas because it has to wait for the next harvest to come in so that it can take stock. So it is normal to see India imposing export limits, it is just happening a bit earlier this year.

"But overall, India still has a surplus of sugar, so it is not worrying to us. It is just a matter of time until its local market prices stabilise. Then it will go back to exporting regularly."

A spokesman for the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) said the Republic imports sugar from more than 40 countries, including Australia, India, Malaysia and Thailand.

The SFA spokesman said: "Diversification has been one of our key strategies to ensure and secure a supply of safe food, especially in view of the current volatile global food security situation. Should there be a disruption to any one source, we will work with importers to tap alternative sources to keep supply stable."

Sugar prices in Singapore have also remained stable in the past few months, according to supermarkets.

A FairPrice spokesman said: "We import sugar from Thailand, South Africa, China, Malaysia and Singapore to ensure daily essentials remain available and affordable for all. We continue to monitor the situation and work closely with suppliers to ensure that supplies and prices of daily essentials remain stable for our customers."

But while Singapore has various options for the supply of sugar, prices might inevitably increase due to higher demand globally.

Mr Cheng said: "Other countries might look to alternative sources of sugar if they cannot buy from India, sources such as Thailand and Malaysia... So that will push up prices overall. But it won't happen immediately."

He added that sugar prices have fluctuated in recent years due to factors such as higher manufacturing and logistic costs.

He said: "No need to panic that there won't be enough sugar to go around. Importers here are also making sure that they will have enough supply. There are many sources out there for sugar."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.