There won’t likely be enough sugar in the U.S. market to comfortably supply all the bakers, candy makers and food manufacturers that need it at a reasonable price, so USDA will soon be announcing a plan to allow for more imports, the department announced Friday.

USDA is now calculating just how much more sugar it will need to allow into the U.S. The department says it will announce those decisions sometime between Monday and Dec. 10.

Jack Roney, director of economics and policy analysis for the American Sugar Alliance, tells Agri-Pulse that the extra sugar will most likely come from Mexico, which appears to have enough supplies to send more across the border. Mexico, under an agreement with the U.S., is allowed the first opportunity to supply additional imported sugar that the U.S. market needs.

Roney said he suspects USDA will wait until its next monthly supply and demand report comes out in December to decide how much more sugar to allow in.

The decision to allow more sugar into the tightly regulated and protected U.S. market stems from poor growing weather and forecasts for smaller beet and cane sugar crops, USDA says. USDA’s latest forecast this month puts U.S. sugar production at about 8.6 million tons, a 572,000-ton decrease from the previous month’s prediction.

That forecast helps push down the stocks-to-use ratio — the primary indicator for the availability of sugar in the U.S. — to a dangerously low 10.5%.

There’s no set mandate for what the stocks-to-use ratio needs to be, but the USDA attempts to keep it between 13.5 and 15.5 percent, which is generally considered to be the sweet spot between the needs of producers and buyers.

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