Sun | Jul 5, 2015

Chinese-owned sugar firm gets sour one-year deal

Published:Thursday | October 4, 2012

Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer

Western Bureau:

Contrary to a bold pronouncement late last year, Chinese-owned Pan Caribbean Sugar Company (PCSC) has failed to land a more lucrative deal than their rival marketing firm, the Jamaica Cane Products Sales (JCPS).

The PCSC has only managed to land a one-year supply deal for 20 tonnes of the sweetener with the European firm Sucres & Denrées (SUCDEN) at a price of €844 per tone with a window for an additional 15 tonnes if production is favourable.

The PCSC deal is a far cry from the near €900 per tonne that the Karl James-led JCPS agreed in its three-year deal with British firm Tate and Lyle - a big financial difference in sugar terms.

Last September, the PCSC, which had gained authorisation to market its own sugar, announced that they did not wish to be a part of the local formula by which estates pool their product for the European market, arguing that they could get a better deal on their own.

Several attempts by The Gleaner to contact Francis He, chief executive officer of the Chinese firm, were unsuccessful.

A deal with farmers

However, a source close to the Chinese operations told The Gleaner that as a consequence of the falling through of their plans, PCSC has been forced to negotiate a deal with their cane farmers at the same rate JCPS is paying their suppliers.

"We have held the discussions and have worked out an agreement that we would be paid on the JCPS formula," said Cleveland Keddo, chairman of the Westmoreland/ Hanover Sugar Cane Growers Association, who refused to provide any additional details.

When contacted, James refused to comment on the latest development. He, however, confirmed that an agreement could be worked out for the PCSC to return to the local pooling arrangement.

Once the PCSC returns to the local arrangement, their sugar will be shipped from the Reynolds Pier, in St Ann, something they had not planned to do under the initiative they were pursuing. However, even if the deal with the JCPS works, the PCSC will still be selling their sugar separately.