Mumbai: India’s top sugar maker Bajaj Hindusthan Ltd has contracted to import an extra 400,000 tonnes of raw sugar, underscoring a global deficit that’s driven benchmark prices to the highest in almost three decades.

White sugar output in the season beginning 1 October may more than double to 1.4 million tonnes (mt) with the import of 700,000 tonnes of raw sugar, Bajaj said in a statement on Monday. Bajaj had said 28 July that it bought 300,000 tonnes from overseas.

Raw sugar has rallied to the highest in 28 years on drought in India’s main cane growing regions and heavy rainfall in Brazil, the top grower. India, the largest user, may need to import 4 mt of raw sugar this year to meet the nation’s shortfall, according to a 28 July forecast from Kushagra Nayan Bajaj, joint managing director at the company.

Bajaj Hindusthan has executed further contracts for import of raw sugar, according to the statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange. The extra shipment would be processed in the firm’s plants into white sugar next season, it said.

Raw sugar for October delivery touched 23.63 cents a pound on ICE Futures US on 28 August, topping a previous 28-year high of 23.33 cents that was reached on 12 August.