Sugar production up but concerns linger over changes in EU market regime

Sugar production at the Belize Sugar Industries (BSI) at Tower Hill in Orange Walk is up by roughly 10%, with cane quality also better than the same time last year.

Information supplied upon request by BSI indicates that up to Sunday, January 21, a total of 287,883 tons of sugar cane was ground, up from 272,909 tons for the same time last year. That represents an increase of almost 15,000 tons of sugar cane. That cane yielded almost 30,000 tons of sugar, about 3,000 more tons than the same period last year.

This crop season opened on December 7, 2017, and we are now in the seventh production week. The BSI reports higher factory efficiency, lower mud content in the sugar cane and a better “tons cane per tons sugar” (TCTS) ratio. The factory also reported more grinding hours, nearing 1,000 hours so far this crop.

Tower Hill Report for Jan 21 2018

Tower Hill Report for Jan 21 2018

Last year, the factory produced 144,000 tons of sugar, with roughly 15,000 of that going to the local market. About 10,000 to 15,000 tons of sugar was exported to the US market but the bulk of it (over 100,000 tons) went to the European Union – the primary buyer of Belize’s exports.
With the EU implementing reforms that remove quota restrictions on locally produced sugar, such as sugar from beet, Belize and other countries in the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group have braced for what could be a substantial fall in sales this year.

Belize is looking at new export partnerships right within the CARICOM region, where there is potential for trade expansion for Belize’s agricultural output. Belize cannot sell its sugar to Mexico or Guatemala due to policy restrictions in those neighboring states.

At a Regional Policy Workshop held last March in Kingston, Jamaica, to address the Caribbean Sugar Industry Post-2017, CARICOM Secretariat Programme Manager – Agriculture and Industry, Nisa Surujbally, said that securing more remunerative markets, value addition and an enabling policy regime within the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) were also very important to the industry’s survival.

“We have witnessed major structural changes in the operations of our sugar industries, including the exit from sugar production of two Member States: Trinidad and Tobago and St Kitts and Nevis. Nevertheless, we are mindful of the vital role and contribution of the sugar sectors to the economies of Barbados, Belize, Guyana and Jamaica,” Surujbally said.

She added that survivability of these industries, after the removal of production quotas in the EU on September 30, 2017, will be a function of improved competitiveness, securing more remunerative markets, value addition, an enabling policy regime within the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, and practical and pragmatic diversification options.

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