Caribbean Countries Record High Sugar Production Figures

In Jamaica, all retail sugar is now pre-packaged and labelled.

Different Strategies Being Employed to Add Value to the Product: SAC

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Caribbean countries produced an estimated 418,000 tons of sugar for the 2016-17 period, according to a statement released by the Sugar Association of the Caribbean (SAC) on Wednesday.

It said the figure surpassed the projected figure of 406,000.

The SAC, which groups the Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC), the Belize Sugar Industries Limited (BSIL), Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc (GUYSUCO), and Sugar Manufacturing Corporation of Jamaica Limited (SMCJL), said the production figures demonstrate the region’s own capacity to supply the regional market, estimated at 320,000 tons for both brown and white sugar, and supports the argument for tariffs to be applied to imported sweeteners.

The SAC said that at its 167th Annual Board Meeting in Belize last week, the directors reaffirmed their plans to continue to supply the needs of the regional sugar market for both brown and white sugar and that it had held talks with officials of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Council of Trade and Development (COTED) in Guyana earlier this month to sensitise them on this issue.

SAC said it has noted that all other regional markets preserve their sugar industries through application of an import tariff, which permits their industries to be competitive.
“Regional producers requested of CARICOM a uniform application of the 40 per cent Common External Tariff (CET) on all imported sweeteners.

“The four regional producers have the capability to supply the full market requirements and we plan to increase our outreach efforts to all stakeholders who use sugar to make the case for the application of the CET and to discuss with them how best to do so for the benefit of both producers and users,” said SAC Chairman, Karl James.

The statement said that the SAC board of directors also discussed the effect that the removal of domestic production quotas in the European sugar market as of October 1, 2017 will have on prices.

“Surplus EU sugar from the last crop has resulted in a fall in prices and this has impacted regional producers, as current prices are not remunerative. This has the potential to close factories and result in negative socio-economic consequences, hence the imperative to preserve the regional market for regional producers”.

The SAC statement noted that different strategies were being employed by its member countries to add value to their product and that the producers have also announced that they have begun in earnest to produce value added sugar products.

“For years, Belize has been producing sugar of 99.5 pol, which is the international benchmark for refined sugar. In Jamaica, all retail sugar is now pre-packaged and labelled, and Barbados is producing direct consumption sugar to supply export customers and also various grades of packaged sugar, including sachet packs for the retail trade and the catering industry,” the SAC said.

In addition to sugar products, BSIL has invested in co-generation that has allowed it to supply 11 megawatts of power to the national grid and has plans to increase this supply shortly.

The statement said that during their meeting in Belize, SAC officials visited the Santander Sugar Company which produces sugar for the export market and expecting to produce 60,000 tons of sugar in 2017/18.

It said Santander also plans to produce white sugar for the regional market and has plans to use technology, such as GPS and drones to prepare fields and monitor production.
“They have illustrated how technology can be used in agriculture to achieve high levels of efficiency to maximise returns. They want to make the Caribbean region a model for efficient sugar cane and sugar production and have invested their money accordingly.
“This is like a breath of fresh air to the regional sugar industry,” the SAC statement noted. – CMC