Chinese-owned Jamaica sugar firm wants to wipe the slate clean … partially

(Jamaica Gleaner) Rela-tions between Pan Carib-bean Sugar Company (PCSC) and others in the sector have been somewhat turbulent since the Chinese company’s market entrance, but the new chief executive officer says he’s ready for a reset.

His outreach, however, will not extend to a redefinition of the company’s business model.

That, according to CEO Dr Wu Huaixiang, is above his pay grade. PCSC, which is now Jamaica’s largest sugar producer, eschewed the traditional pooling of supplies for distribution to foreign buyers. Instead, it applied for and was granted ‘agency status’, which allows the company to market its own sugar.

“The decision was approved by the board of directors at COMPLANT,” said Dr Wu.

“I am just an employee, just going by these guidelines; so that decision will not be reversed,” he said in an exclusive interview with the Financial Gleaner.

PCSC is a subsidiary of the COMPLANT group and is the operating company for the Frome, Monymusk and Bernard Lodge sugar factories acquired from the Jamaican Government. Wu replaced He Francis as head of the Jamaican operations in June.

“I believe we can revitalise sugar production in Jamaica, but there needs to be a greater understanding by all that this is a business, and as such must be operated in a manner so that everyone involved benefit,” Wu said.

In the three years that PCSC has been involved in local sugar production, the Chinese company’s non-traditional approach to business in a sector steeped in tradition has grated on farming groups and others with which the company does business.


Worst performance

Since takeover, the PCSC factories have underperformed. Frome, the largest sugar estate in Jamaica, churned out just over 34,000 tonnes of sugar in the 2011-12 crop year – its worst performance since the early 1900s. Frome and Monymusk combined churned just 55,201 tonnes for the 2012-13 crop.

The company’s journey as a marketing agent started off quietly.

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