Sugar production was 7.7 per cent lower at 112 lakh tonnes in the first three months of the ongoing 2023-24 season, owing to lesser output in two key states, according to cooperative body NFCSF.
Sugar production stood at 121.35 lakh tonnes during the October-December period of 2022-23 season.
NFCSF has projected the country's total sugar output to be at 305 lakh tonnes in the 2023-24 season, lower than 330.90 lakh tonnes achieved in the 2022-23 season.
Sugar season runs from October to September.
Releasing the latest data, the National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories (NFCSF) said a total of 511 factories had crushed 1,223 lakh tonnes of sugarcane till December 2023 of the ongoing season.
Among the top three sugar producing states, the output in Maharashtra and Karnataka remained lower during the October-December period of this season.
"Since the central government has limited the production of ethanol from sugarcane juice, the total availability of new sugar in the country for local consumption is expected to be 305 lakh tonnes," NFCSF President Jaiprakash Dandegaonkar said.
According to the NFCSF data, sugar production in Maharashtra -- the country's top sugar producing state -- was lower at 38.20 lakh tonnes till December of 2023-24 season, as against 47.40 lakh tonnes in the year-ago period.
Similarly, the production in Karnataka, the country's third largest producing state, was lower at 24 lakh tonnes, as against 26.70 lakh tonnes in the said period.
However, Uttar Pradesh, the country's second largest sugar producing state, produced more sugar at 34.65 lakh tonnes till December of this season, when compared to 30.80 lakh tonnes in the year-ago period.
NFCSF said the average sugar recovery in the country stood at 9.17 per cent and "as winter progresses, sugar yield is expected to increase accordingly".
By the end of the season, Uttar Pradesh is expected to produce 115 lakh tonnes of sugar, Maharashtra 90 lakh tonnes, Karnataka 42 lakh tonnes, Tamil Nadu 12 lakh tonnes and Gujarat 10 lakh tonnes, it added.
NFCSF Managing Director Prakash Naiknavare said the current restriction on ethanol production may be relaxed to some extent as the estimated 290 lakh tonnes of sugar production at the beginning of the season is expected to increase by about 15 lakh tonnes.
NFCSF and the Indian Sugar Mills Association will jointly flag this issue with the central government, he added.