All over African, Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP), sugar producing countries are preparing themselves for significant market changes. The elimination of quotas constraining beet sugar production in the European Union (EU) market, in October 2017, means the pricing preferences traditionally enjoyed in the EU market will be a thing of the past. The impact of this unprecedented change will be a direct hit to Belize’s sugar industry, as traditionally, the industry has relied on the majority production and export of raw sugar for further refining abroad to the EU market, its primary export market. This is happening at just the wrong time for the Belize sugar industry, as a global surplus of sugar means global prices are currently low, and this will become the reference point for future sugar cane pricing in Belize.
BSI has been developing plans to minimize the negative impact of these changes on the industry in Belize. The company is increasing the production and sale of Direct Consumption DC) Sugars to alternative markets where prices will be better. The company currently produces around 30,000 tons of this sugar which can be consumed directly and does not need to be refined again by the customer. On September 18, 2017, at a ground-breaking event at the Tower Hill Sugar Mill in Orange Walk, BSI demonstrated its commitment to the future of the sugar Industry by announcing a further major investment to expand production of DC sugars which will also have the benefit of improving the mill’s grindingrate capacity. The investment of BZ$ 22million will increase the factory’s production capacity of direct consumption sugars to 50,000 tons which attracts a higher price than raw sugar in the markets open to Belize.
Additionally, BSI is seeking assistance from regional governments to properly protect the CARICOM market for Caribbean-produced sugar, so as to provide Belize with an additional premium market for its sugar.
“We are at a critical time; in fact, time is simply not on our side. We have been raising the alarm since these market changes were announced in 2013. In this current environment it is sink or swim, and we have no intention of drowning. Therefore, we must act decisively and strategically.”
- Celestino Ruiz, ASR Group Country Manager
“The investment should also improve the mill’s grinding rate to enable the mill to grind 1.35 million tons of cane in a 26 week crop period. The higher prices we can achieve through this investment, relative to what could have been achieved from the sale of raw sugar, will benefit the whole industry and help to make cane farming more sustainable.”
- Mac McLachlan, ASR Group VP of International Relations