Late start to sugar crop year
Despite a late start to the 2014-2015 sugar crop season due to heavy rains, leading players in the sector are confident that local manufacturers can match or surpass the 153,000 tons produced last year.
"The [December 2014] start of the crop year was affected by rain, but rain has stopped, and testing of the cane is now taking place to check for quality," said Karl James, general manager of the Jamaica Cane Product Sales (JCPS), the marketing agent of the Sugar Industry Authority (SIA).
"However, this won't affect our initial output projection of 153,000 tonnes of sugar for 2014-2015."
Except for Worthy Park, which starts today (its usual time), all the other producers are behind on their schedule. Appleton Estate in St Elizabeth starts tomorrow, while Golden Grove in St Thomas and the Trelawny-based Everglades Farms are set to begin churning the sweetener by January 12.
Pan Caribbean Sugar Company (PCSC) factory Monymusk in Clarendon will get started in late January-early February, while the PCSC's Frome factory, which is being refurbished, is expected to get started in 10 days.
The manufacturers churned out a grand total of 154,000 tons of sugar for the 2013-2014 crop year - almost 26,000 tons more than the 128,196 tons produced the year before.
In fact, three factories recorded their highest-ever production. Appleton Estate and Worthy Park were joined by Golden Grove factory in record production levels of 33,600 tons, 27,000 tons, and 19,300 tons, respectively.
The Long Pond Sugar Factory doubled its production from 6,674 tons of sugar for 2012-2013 to 11,300 tons last year.
Frome Sugar Estate made a slight improvement over the 36,700 tons of sugar produced in 2012-2013 to follow up with 38,000 tons.
Monymusk will be hard-pressed to reach the heights of its 2010-2011 crop year, when it produced 29,000 tons, but did show signs of a resurgence with an output of more than 23,000 tons last crop.