Sunday, April 14, 2024

Sugar shortage affecting San Pedro; contraband to countries in the region to blame


A sugar shortage has been reported in the country and is now affecting customers in San Pedro Town. Many islanders working in the restaurant and pastry sector have noted that this shortage negatively affects their businesses. While there has not been an official note from the Government of Belize addressing the cause of the shortage, the problem is reportedly due to the irregular exportation of sugar to the nearby countries in the region.
For weeks, retailers have indicated that distributors are smuggling sugar to markets in Guatemala and Mexico, where they reportedly receive higher payments for the sweetener. During an interview with the media on October 19th, the Minister of Agriculture, the Honourable Jose Mai, said that there is no shortage of sugar production as the Belize Sugar Industries. He said the issue is the contraband of Belizean sugar to the neighboring countries because they are paying more for the said product. “The solution could be to adjust the sugar price,” he said. “However, the public will not be happy because the cost of living in Belize is high,” Mai said it is unfair that some people are engaging in this illegal business that is affecting Belizeans back at home and benefiting consumers in places like Mexico and Guatemala. Mai noted that Belize has the cheapest sugar in the region, thus, the interest from buyers in Guatemala and parts of southern Mexico.
In San Pedro, the country’s leading tourism destination, stakeholders are going far and beyond to secure the important product. The high tourism season is already underway, and some of them shared that it is essential to provide their guests with everything they need, including delicious desserts. On the other hand, some retailers on the island are also warning that the price of sugar in their establishments may experience an increase in price due to the shortages.
Overall, world sugar production has suffered a 30% reduction in 2023. Some affected countries with large populations, like Mexico and Guatemala, have had to seek alternative sugar distributors to meet their needs. Belize’s low sugar prices have attracted those markets, causing a dent in the country’s local supply. In the meantime, the government has stated that the respective authorities are investigating to find out those involved in sugar smuggling in Belize.

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