BSI prepares for EU reform on sugar market

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

The Belize Sugar Industry (BSI) is bracing for direct competition in 2017 following the recent European Union’s (EU) reform on world sugar prices. In view of the introduction of beet sugar in Europe, Belize will no longer enjoy the preferential rates on sugar it has experienced in the past, thus, a reduction in prices of the sweet crystals appears inevitable. As such, BSI is preparing to try new markets and strategizing on how to continue selling Belizean sugar at a sustainable or better rate.
Under the EU, Belize is considered a market with limited alternatives and high production cost. Changes in world prices and the pressure to compete with other sugar producers can have a heavy impact on BSI and the economy of Belize. Over the past years, Belize has become very dependent on sugar exports and reforms such as this can result in a deep dent on the sugar industry’s future.
Even though a prime catastrophic effect of this change includes an increase of 3% in poverty, American Sugar Refining Belize Sugar Industries (ASR), which runs the Tower Hill Sugar Factory in Orange Walk District, is very optimistic of what the future has in store for the industry. According to Mac McLachlan, Vice President of International Relations at BSI/ASR, the future looks good as they are exploring opportunities in the European market as they venture into the competitive arena. “We plan to produce more of what we call Demerara or direct consumption sugars, where you get a higher profit, which in turn is good for the industry,” explained McLachlan.
The company’s next strategy is to target markets in the Caribbean. In order to successfully launch such a proposal, they expect to count with the assistance from the Government of Belize and other sugar producing governments in the Caribbean. “As things stand in the Caribbean, there is no tariff that prevents the importation of refined sugar into the Caribbean,” said McLachlan. “At a recent CARICOM trade meeting, it was agreed that the standards that define refined sugar are satisfactorily met by our industry here in Belize. This means that there is an opportunity for us to open a brand new market for Belizean sugar in the Caribbean.”
The Sugar Crop for 2016-2017 started on December 5th and an estimated 1.3 million tons of sugar are expected to be delivered for process at the Tower Hill Sugar Factory. According to cane farmers and representatives of ASR, the road to a prosperous season looks smooth. The only hurdle affecting the crop, according to them, might just be Mother Nature.

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