The country's sugar production increased by 27.3 per cent to 7.46 million tonnes in the first three months of the current 2014-15 season, but continuous fall in prices is a cause of concern for millers, industry body ISMA said on Monday.
Sugar output stood at 5.86 million tonnes in the October-December period of the 2013-14 season.
Sugar season runs from October to September. Expressing concern over falling ex-mill prices of sugar, Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) said that the rates are substantially below the cost of production and it has become difficult for mills to even pay the cane price to farmers within stipulated period.
In a statement, the industry body sought continuation of export subsidy on raw sugar to check falling sugar price and improve cane price paying capacity of industry.
According to the latest data released by ISMA, total sugar production has reached 7.46 million tonnes during the October-December period of the 2014-15 season, as against 5.88 million tonnes in the year-ago.
This year's production is slightly higher than last year mainly because the UP mills started their crushing operations almost a week before last year.
Sugar recovery was also higher at 9.25 per cent till December 2014, as against 8.75 per cent in the same period last year, ISMA said. The output in Maharashtra, the country's top sugar producing state, has increased by 47 per cent to 3.27 million tonnes from 2.23 million tonnes in the review period.
Similarly the production in Uttar Pradesh - the country's second largest producing state - has risen by 55 per cent to 1.72 million tonnes during October-December of this year from 1.11 million tonnes in the year-ago period.
The production in Karnataka fell marginally to 1.2 million tonnes from 1.23 million tonnes, while that in Tamil Nadu showed a sharp decline to 65,000 tonnes from 1,62,000 tonnes in the review period.
The output in Bihar increased to 1,80,000 tonnes during October-December of 2014-15 sugar season, as against 90,000 tonnes a year ago.
In other states, sugar production remained more or less same as that of last year.
Till December-end, 481 sugar mills were operating in the country as against 485 sugar mills in a year ago.
According to ISMA, ex-mill sugar prices in Maharashtra and Karnataka have been falling continuously.
"At present, sugar mills are selling sugar at Rs 2,450-2,500 per quintal in Maharashtra and at Rs 2,600-2,650 per quintal in Uttar Pradesh", it added.
ISMA estimates sugar production at 25-25.5 million tonnes for this season, while the government's projection is 25.05 million tonnes for the same period.
During 2013-14 season, the country had produced 24.4 million tonnes sugar and exported 2.11 million tonnes.