Sunday, April 14, 2024

Temporary increase in white sugar prices announced for the Belize market


On Tuesday, January 9th, the American Sugar Refinery (ASR)/Belize Sugar Industries (BSI) reported an increase in the price of domestic white sugar. As of Wednesday, January 10th, a 50-pound bag of white sugar will cost $59.26, around $1.18 per pound or $0.43 more than the controlled price of $0.75.
ASR/BSI’s Director of Finance Shawn Chavarria reportedly suggested last year, when the sugar company was planning to import sugar from the United States of America (USA), that the retailed white sugar could go as high as $1.50 per pound in the local market. ASR/BSI explained that the increase is only temporary and is due to market shortages because of unauthorized cross-border trade. This shortage in the local market has led to the need to import white sugar from the USA. They stated that prices will revert to normal once the imported stock is depleted and production of white sugar from the 2024 crop commences.
A sugar shortage has been reported in the country since last year, affecting customers in San Pedro Town. Many islanders working in the restaurant and pastry sector have noted that this shortage negatively affects their businesses. They continue to struggle to access the sweet powder, and in some instances, some persons have only been able to obtain brown sugar. The Ministry of Agriculture stated they are working with other agencies to find out who the distributors are selling the sugar to vendors across the borders in Mexico and Guatemala. The ministry reminded those involved in this act, which is affecting the local market that it is illegal and a license to export is needed.
The Belize Police Department is also looking for anyone trying to smuggle sugar out of Belize. The latest incident involving a possible illegal exportation of Belizean happened on January 4th outside Orange Walk Town. A truck full of sugar was intercepted and believed to be heading to Guatemala. The Commission of Police, Chester Williams, said that while it was speculated that the sugar was heading out of the country, there was no evidence of such intent. After some investigation, the sugar was returned to its owners; however, he said their movements would be monitored.
This announced increase in white sugar was not well accepted across the country. Many anticipate an increase in the prices of pastries and other goods made with white sugar.

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