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JRC MARS Bulletin

Cold and rainy conditions delay sugar beet sowing in the main production regions

In France, Belgium and the Netherlands, early sowing started at the beginning of March, but sowing progressed extremely slowly due to frequent rains and overly wet soils. In France, by the end of March only 8% of fields were sown, whereas in the Netherlands by mid-April less than 10% of sowing progress was reported. In an average year, well over 50% of the sowing would have been accomplished by these dates. Such significant delays are expected to have a negative impact on yield potentials. In Germany the early sowing was reported during the second dekad of March but sowing activity gained in intensity at the end of March and during the first half of April, delayed compared to last season due to prevailing rainy conditions, especially in the important sugar producing regions of north-west Germany. Likewise, in Poland the sowing campaign started on time in mid-March but has been progressing slowly due to periods of low temperatures (end of March, beginning of April), and rainy conditions that have hampered field works. The sowing campaign accelerated during the first half of April with an onset of more favourable conditions, and should be finalised by the end of the month (slightly delayed compared to previous years). The conditions for early development of seedlings are favourable. In Czechia, Slovakia and Austria, conditions were generally favourable for sowing. In Hungary, the sowing campaign that started on time in late March subsequently slowed due to a cold and wet spell. In Türkiye, the sowing campaign has just commenced under generally favourable conditions.

Associated British Foods

Adjusted operating profit for AB Sugar is expected to be well ahead of the same period last year.

AB Sugar traded strongly in the first half with revenues expected to be some 26% higher than the same period last year due to higher sugar prices in Africa and Europe and an increase in bioethanol sales following the recommissioning of Vivergo. The adjusted operating profit margin at AB Sugar is expected to reduce as the contribution from higher sugar and coproduct prices was more than offset by the impact of higher energy costs and, for Vivergo, also higher wheat costs which led to a loss in the half year. Adjusted operating profit for AB Sugar is expected to be well ahead of the same period last year. European sugar prices continued to improve over last year as a result of lower European sugar production. Estimates for EU sugar production in the 2022/23 campaign are now some 10% lower than last year due to lower yields caused by adverse weather and a smaller growing area. Both European and world sugar prices remain high. Our UK and Spanish businesses have largely contracted sales for the year at these improved prices. UK sugar production for the 2022/23 campaign is still expected to be 0.74 million tonnes, down from 1.03 million tonnes from the last campaign. This fall in production reflects lower beet sugar yields following unusually adverse weather conditions. British Sugar has moved swiftly to secure alternative sources of supply and is working with customers to ensure continuity of supply. Energy cost inflation has been significant even though mitigated by government support. The shortfall in UK sugar beet production will result in much lower profitability at British Sugar in the second half.