Caribbean sugar producers looking for regional markets

Published: 05/16/2018, 11:35:24 AM

The Sugar Association of the Caribbean says regional sugar companies, including Guyana’s, are looking for long-term, bigger markets right in the Caribbean, according to Guyana’s Kaieteur News.

SAC comprises Barbados Agricultural Management Company, Belize Sugar Industries Limited, Guyana Sugar Corporation, and the Sugar Manufacturing Corporation of Jamaica Limited.

The future of the sugar industry in the region was a top one on the agenda during the 168th meeting of the Board of Directors –between Thursday and Friday in Barbados.

Sugar production in 2017/18 is projected at 417,000 tonnes. Actual production in 2016/17 was 417,000 tonnes.

With a number of countries, including Trinidad and Tobago, St. Kitts and Nevis and Jamaica pulling out or reducing production in recent years, SAC has been looking to reposition its members.

“Given their commitment to supply the regional market, all members have made and are continuing with investments to produce bagged and packaged sugar for both industrial users and consumers,” the Association said.

With regard to the European market, SAC said that its Directors were apprised of developments in the European Market, which its members continue to supply.

Going forward, the plans are to supply the regional market as a priority.

With regards to the US markets, the association said: “All of the SAC members indicated their intention to supply their full quotas for 2017/18, as the prices obtained in this market are more remunerative than in other export markets.”

However, changing weather patterns have been adversely impacting sugar production. “Notwithstanding this, the industries are making every effort to mitigate the impact.”

The Association said that SAC is gearing up to produce sufficient volumes of food grade sugars to meet CARICOM market demand.

“SAC Directors heard of necessary investment in Belize, Guyana and Jamaica, to meet this demand. Traditionally, SAC producers have majored on raw sugar production for overseas refining. Since October 2017, changes to the EU market have eliminated any pricing preference in that market.”

SAC said that its producers are responding by shifting production from raw to added value, food grade sugar, to serve the CARICOM market.

“This will spearhead the way toward the full regional integration of the sugar market within the CARICOM single market, to the benefit of industrial users of sugar and CARICOM citizens, while protecting the livelihoods of half a million CARICOM citizens involved in the region’s sugar industries.”

SAC is preparing to present a report to COTED, the business arm of CARICOM, detailing these benefits and the pathway to achieving full regional integration.

“SAC Directors also noted the recent announcement by the Global Sugar Alliance of an investigation into market distorting practices in India, Pakistan and the EU. The investigation is looking at the impact on sugar producers of such market distortions, which is having such a devastating impact on the region’s sugar producers.”

SAC also disclosed that its Cane Breeding Station, located in Barbados, is world class in its research activities.

“This recognition has resulted in expanded membership to include four sugar companies from Florida and one from the Dominican Republic. This has resulted in an expansion of activities at the Station and it continues to supply a number of sugar companies all over the world with planting materials.”

Guyana’s sugar industry is currently undergoing major changes, including the closure of four estates. A number of proposals are on the table for the sale of the estates.