Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer
Plan to ship own product falls through
PanCaribbean Sugar Company's (PCSC) ambitious plans to export its own sugar have hit a snag as, with just three months to go before the start of the 2012-2013 crop year, the firm is still without a port.
In fact, the Chinese state-owned firm met with Jamaica Cane Product Sales (JCPS) yesterday in a bid to negotiate a return to the local pooling arrangement, which existed prior to their attempt to go it on their own.
When contacted, Francis He, the chief executive officer of PCSC, was unwilling to discuss the matter. However, Karl James, the general manager of JCPS, confirmed that talks were being held regarding the return of the Chinese firm, which would see their sugar being shipped from the Reynolds Pier, in St Ann, as part of the pool arrangement.
"PanCaribbean will not have their new port for next year, so their proposal is to work with JCPS to ship their sugar through the Ocho Rios port for this crop year. That request is now under consideration," James told The Gleaner.
However, even if the deal with the JCPS works, the PCSC still wants to sell its sweetener to a separate buyer. Some producers are reportedly against the temporary arrangement, especially with no way to separate and determine each estate's sugar quality.
"That is the question being voiced by our directors, because the quality of the sugar from Frome has been a concern over the years, but they have given the undertaking that they are doing everything to improve on the quality, so that should not be an issue," James said.
Impact of quality
However, Allan Rickards, chairman of the All Island Jamaica Cane Farmers Association (AIJCFA), is expressing concern about the impact of the quality of Frome's sugar on the cane farmers' remuneration.
"The quality of the sugar must be addressed before they are allowed to pool; it is also not good news for my members," said Rickards.
Prior to the completion of the Government's divestment of sugar factories last year, both private and publicly-owned factories pooled their products and authorised JCPS, which markets the product.
However, since then, the PCSC negotiated with the Jamaican Government for the right to sell its own sugar when it bought the Bernard Lodge, Frome and Monymusk factories.
In a previous interview with The Gleaner, he identified Montego Bay and Monymusk as likely locations for the PCSC proposed port. At the time, he pointed out that the marketing, storage and distribution plans for the local market are already in place.