The Sugar Association of the Caribbean (SAC) has reaffirmed its plans to supply the needs of the entire CARICOM market for both brown and white sugar.
According to an SAC press release, the Association engaged with the Ministers at the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) meeting held in early November to sensitise them on this issue.
The release stated that regional producers requested of CARICOM a uniform application of the 40% Common External Tariff on all imported sweeteners as all other regional markets protect their sugar industries through application of an import tariff, which permits their industries to survive.
According to the release, the four regional producers: Guyana, Belize, Barbados and Jamaica are capable of supplying the full market requirements. The producers plan to increase their outreach efforts to all stakeholders who use sugar to make the case for application of the CET and to discuss with them how best to do so for the benefit of both producers and users, the release said.
Sugar production in 2016/2017 was 418,000 tonnes, slightly up from the projected 406,000 tonnes. This figure, the release stated, demonstrates the capacity to supply the regional market (brown and white sugar) which is estimated at 320,000 tonnes. The release noted that as of October 1, 2017, the EU removed domestic production quotas. The result is expected to be a sharp rise in production which would depress market prices.
The release stated that regional producers have begun to produce value added sugar products. For years, Belize has been producing sugar of 99.5 pol which is international bench mark for refined sugar. In Jamaica, all retail sugar is now pre-packaged and labelled. 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 catering industry.
According to the release, Belize Sugar Industries (BSI) has, in addition to sugar products, invested in co-generation that has allowed them to supply 11 mega-watts of power.
Meanwhile, the release added that the Directors made a visit to the Santander Sugar Company in Belize. This company which produces sugar for the export market, has 7000 hectares of land, 5000 of which are currently cultivated. It is expected to produce 60,000 tonnes of white sugar in 2017/2018, the release said.
It added that the approach of Santander to sugar cane production is “visionary” for its use of GPS and drones to prepare their fields and monitor output.
“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 added.