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Changing weather patterns affect global sugar production - Jamaica at lowest production since 1935

Published:Sunday | November 27, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Karl James

The Sugar Association of the Caribbean (SAC) is reporting that global sugar production has been disappointing this year, mainly due to changing weather patterns. The SAC said the outcome is that for the rest of 2016 and 2017, there will be a five-million tonne deficit internationally, which will result in higher sugar prices.

At its 165th Annual Board Meeting held in Kingston last week, the SAC directors also reported that production in the Caribbean Region has been similarly affected, with Jamaica reporting its lowest sugar production since 1935. However, the SAC said that notwithstanding these challenges, the SAC members produced just over 450,000 tonnes of sugar for the 2015-2016 crop. The SAC members are the Barbados Agricultural Management Company, Belize Sugar Industries Limited, Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc, and the Sugar Manufacturing Corporation of Jamaica Limited.

The association's board, chaired by Jamaica's Karl James, stated that the region has no challenge in disposing of the sugar that is produced. The markets available to SAC members are the European Union (EU) for which it has access to sell 533,000 tonnes, the United States, which provides a base quota of 43,175 tonnes, and the regional market. The SAC board said its members are paying more attention to the USA and the regional markets where prices are better. In 2015-2016, projected sales to these markets were 26,000 tonnes and 25,000 tonnes, respectively. The SAC members have also reiterated their commitment to supplying all the raw sugar needs of the region.




In conjunction with some members of the London Sugar Group, the SAC members discussed the likely implications for sugar when the UK leaves the EU as a result of the Brexit vote earlier this year. The SAC board said members recognised that there were opportunities for sugar, in that there would have to be negotiations for a UK-CARICOM Free Trade Agreement. The SAC members have agreed to begin their own dialogue and coordinate with the political directorate to ensure sugar issues have a voice when these negotiations take place.

The SAC announced that the Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and CARIFORM (CARICOM members and the Dominican Republic) will remain in force, except, it would not apply to the UK once they exit from the EU.

In the meantime, the directors of the SAC finalised plans for the operations of the West Indies Central Sugar Cane Breeding Station (WICSCBS). It was established as a separate legal entity earlier this year. Under the new arrangement, the SAC, which owns the assets at the breeding facility, has agreed that these resources can be utilised by the new entity, West Indies Cane Breeding Station.

The board of the WICSCBS met and agreed to cater for expanded membership outside of the current four members of the SAC. This move will see an injection of new capital that will enable the WICSCBS to be on a stronger financial footing and, therefore, enhance its breeding programme.