RPT-UPDATE 1-Australia lowers sugar output forecast after crop damage
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* Australia sugar production forecast drops by around 6.5 pct
* Flood damage, crop disease curb output
* Beef export f'cast unchanged, but China demand seen higher
SYDNEY, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Australia has lowered its forecast sugar output in the 2013/14 marketing season by around 6.5 percent due to flood damage and crop disease, the world's third largest raw sugar exporter said.
Sugar production in the 2013/14 season will total 4.25 million tonnes, the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) said on Tuesday, down from its June prediction of 4.54 million tonnes.
"The forecast decline reflects flood damage to new plantings in early 2013 and lower average sugar yields, due in part to canopy syndrome disease in the Bundaberg and Isis regions," the ABARES report said. The forecaster was referring to a disease that has hit parts of Queensland, the country's largest sugar producing state.
ABARES said sugar exports during the season will total 3 million tonnes, down from its previous forecast of 3.2 million tonnes.
Declining exports from Australia will help buoy global prices that plunged to a three-year low in July on the prospect of a bumper crop in Brazil.
Meanwhile, ABARES held its forecast for beef exports in the marketing year that starts in October unchanged at a record 1.07 million tonnes.
It raised its Chinese demand estimate to 130,000 tonnes from 120,000 tonnes, but said that was offset by increased competition from U.S. beef in other markets.
ABARES' beef exports figure did not take into account a change of policy in Indonesia, which abandoned its quota system in July, allowing the unlimited importation of live cattle in an effort to curb domestic beef prices rises.
(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Joseph Radford)