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LONDON: Raw sugar futures on ICE hit their highest in 2-1/2 months on Wednesday amid soaring ethanol prices, concerns over top producer Brazil’s cane crop and a stronger Brazilian real.

July raw sugar rose 0.2% to 18.14 cents per lb at 1418 GMT, having hit its highest since late February earlier at 18.25.

Rabobank expects the July and October raw sugar contracts to trade between 15.5-18.5 cents per lb due mostly to soaring ethanol prices in Brazil, which tend to tempt mills to divert more cane to ethanol production rather than sugar.

It cautioned, however: “As most of the (Brazilian) sugar is committed (for sale) already, ethanol prices will need to rise considerably more in order to claw a larger share of cane.”

China’s sugar imports in the current 2020/21 season to end-September should reach 4.5 million tonnes, versus 3.76 million in the year-ago season, data showed.

August white sugar fell 0.5% to $478.10 a tonne.

July arabica coffee fell 0.5% to $1.4930 per lb, after climbing to a four-year peak of $1.5540 last week.

Brazil exported 7% less green coffee in April versus a year earlier amid restrictions linked to COVID-19 and a shortage of shipping containers.

Worries about the current crop in Brazil are boosting arabica, though Rabobank cautioned that the crop is going to be better than expected in some areas.

Nevertheless, the bank raised its forecast for July arabica to between $1.33-$1.57 per lb due to the strengthening real.

July robusta coffee fell 0.4% to $1,526 a tonne.

Coffee exports from Vietnam, the world’s top robusta producer, were down 22.1% in April from March.

July London cocoa rose 2.3% to 1,690 pounds per tonne.

Top cocoa producer Ivory Coast is grappling with electricity outages, with most cocoa grinders operating at between 25% and 50% of capacity, two industry sources said. July New York cocoa rose 1.8% to $2,511 a tonne.