French sugar-beet growers are demanding that rising sugar imports from Ukraine be re-exported outside Europe to avoid hurting local producers.

Ukrainian sugar imports to the bloc could reach 700,000-800,000 tons in the 2023-2024 season, growers’ group CGB said at a press conference Tuesday. That would be about double the previous season’s imports and well above the 21,500-ton average for the five years prior to that, European Commission data show. Ukraine has previously said it would cap sugar exports at 650,000 tons to all destinations this season.

“We need a clear answer from the European Commission on the future management of this inflow of sugar,” the CGB said in a presentation.

The sugar producers’ demands follow similar tensions over a surge in Ukraine grain exports, which prompted several eastern European countries to ban purchases on the grounds the shipments were depressing local prices. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupted operations at its Black Sea ports, forcing grain producers to rely more on rail, road and river routes through neighboring countries.  

Despite the growth in Ukrainian sugar imports, EU sugar prices remain high amid a global shortfall of the sweetener. Domestic white sugar prices are more than €800 euros ($878) per ton, the highest in over a decade, EU data show.