The Mauritius Sugar Syndicate (MSS) has reported that sugar exports in May 2003 were significantly lower than exports in May 2002. Some 29,459 tonnes of sugar were exported in the fifth month, compared to 32,495 tonnes the year before.
Officials have blamed a shortfall in production. A spokesman also told news agency Reuters that while there was a bulk shipment of sugar in May last year, this year's bulk shipment will come later on.
The island's bulk export season generally runs from June to December, coinciding with the main harvesting season. In April, Mauritius exported 5,982 tonnes of sugar.
The vast majority of this year's May exports, around 24,575 tonnes, was sold to the European Union.
It is unlikely that the drop in May production will affect European confectionery manufacturers.
Mauritius is the world's seventh biggest sugar exporter, and is on target to ship a total of 556,000 tonnes abroad in 2003. Over 500,000 tonnes of this is destined for the EU.
Sugar exports account for about 85 per cent of the island's agricultural exports and generate almost six per cent of the country's total gross domestic product. Some 25,000 people out of a population of 1.2 million are employed in sugar production.