Mon | Dec 18, 2017

Sugar players take aim at new crop year

Published:Saturday | September 23, 2017 | 12:00 AMMark Titus
CEO of Seprod group Richard Pandohie
Chief Executive Officer of Pan Caribbean Sugar Company, Liu Chaoyu.
In this February 2017 file photo, Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Karl Samuda (second right) is briefed on the sugar-manufacturing process at the Worthy Park Sugar Factory in St Catherine by Senior Managing Director Robert Clarke (right) during a tour of the facility.
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Western Bureau:

Following a below-par 2016-2017 crop year, a number of local manufacturers will be starting their sugar production much earlier this season as they seek to make up for the shortfalls from last year.

Except for Worthy Park Estate, in St Catherine, which produced an impressive 26,076 metric tonnes of the sweetener from 261,582 tonnes of cane, and a creditable 19,132 tonnes of sugar produced from 300,684 tonnes of cane by Appleton Estate, all the other factories performed below expectation, producing a combined total of 87,990 metric tonnes of sugar from 1.13 million tonnes of cane.

The Chinese-owned Pan Caribbean Sugar Company (PCSC) will be getting its season under way on November 20, some four weeks ahead of its usual time. They are now planning to do much better than the 20,451 metric tonnes produced last year from 247,078 tonnes of cane. They had projected to produce 28,000 metric tonnes of sugar.

 

Season cut short

 

"We intend to start the new season on November 20 (2017), but this will depend on the maturity of the cane from both farmers and factory," said Liu Chaoyu, the chief executive officer (CEO) of the PCSC, whose season was cut short last year. "We had very poor rainfall that resulted in poor yield in canes, and without the raw material, we cannot produce sugar, so we decided to close down production after about 90 days.

"We start next crop early, and we are hoping for a fruitful partnership to prevent the cane fires," said Liu Chaoyu.

'We're still optimistic'

At the Golden Grove factory in St Thomas, excessive rainfall made a mockery of a season that Richard Pandohie, Seprod group's CEO, had hoped would be a break-even year after registering close to $4 billion in losses since it acquired the factory from the Government in 2009. Last year, they suffered a $450 million loss.

"We are actively preparing the factory, and work on the fields is on in earnest for us to start earlier in December than we did last year," said Pandohie.

According to Pandohie, at the start of the 2016-17 crop year, Golden Grove had anticipated an output of about 13,500 metric tonnes, but instead, they had a below-par season, churning only 11,297 metric tonnes of sugar from 151,060 tonnes of cane.

"We are still optimistic that things will get better, so we will continue to run the plant and hope that we will get some luck next year," said Pandohie.

John Gayle, who took on the Monymusk Sugar Factory after the PCSC took a decision not to operate the factory after racking up significant losses the previous year, fell short of his ambitious 15,000 metric tonnes target, producing only 11,230 metric tonnes of sugar from 176,029 tonnes of cane.