| NEW YORK
NEW YORK May 29 Three U.S. sugar refiners,
including Domino Sugar and Imperial Sugar, have this week raised
refined sugar prices by up to a third, as supplies tighten and
U.S. regulators consider imposing duties on Mexican imports.
United Sugars Corp and American Sugar Refining Group's (ASR)
Domino Foods Inc issued new price lists to customers in letters
on Tuesday, increasing industrial prices to $37 per
hundredweight (cwt), or 37 cents per lb, through Sept. 30, 2015.
On the same day, Louis Dreyfus Commodities raised
its list price for Imperial Sugar to $38 per cwt, but no time
frame was given. All were effective immediately, according to
letters to customers seen by Reuters.
Domino President and Chief Executive Officer Brian O'Malley
said in an email to Reuters the move was "in response to higher
raw sugar costs."
Imperial declined to comment, while United did not return
calls or emails seeking comment.
The new prices represented an increase of between 12 to 32
percent since October, the last time the refiners, which
accounted for more than half of the 11 million tonnes of U.S.
refined sugar, changed prices.
The size of the hike surprised some traders because domestic
raw prices have risen 20 percent since October.
On Tuesday, the domestic raw sugar futures price hit
25.55 cents per lb, the highest since October 2012.
The rally has accelerated since early April after ASR and
other U.S. sugar producers accused Mexican mills of dumping
subsidized sugar in the industry's first trade case in decades,
raising concerns about falling imports from the major U.S. trade
The U.S. Department of Commerce is scheduled to make a
preliminary decision on potential countervailing duties during
the summer. A ruling on anti-dumping duties is due in September.
But the threat of duties is expected to slow imports,
"A large portion of the sugar for 2015 has already been
contracted, so it's that much more supportive for these guys to
try to get higher prices for the remainder of their book," said
Kevin Combs, vice president for McKeany Flavell, a commodity
brokerage in Oakland, California.
Domino's O'Malley would not comment on how many customers
have agreed on contracts for 2015, but said some industrial
customers have already covered or partially covered their needs
for next year.
In October, Domino and Imperial raised list prices to $33
per cwt, and United to $28 per cwt.
The combination of falling Mexican imports and a smaller
U.S. sugar beet crop have transformed U.S. prices even as the
global market struggles with its fourth-straight year of
oversupply. Global raw prices have fallen about 7 percent
at around 17.20 cents per lb since October.
Last year, the U.S. government scooped up hundreds of
millions of dollars worth of unwanted sugar from processors
aimed at reducing inventories.
(Reporting by Marcy Nicholson; Editing by Josephine Mason and