Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer
JAMAICA'S SUGAR import will see a reduction for the 2012-2013 crop year following a decision to focus on supplying the lucrative local market.
"We have a preliminary projection of about 140,000 tonnes for the next sugar crop, and we will be supplying all the sugar needed for the domestic market from this amount," Ambassador Derrick Heaven, executive chairman of the Sugar Industry Authority (SIA), told The Gleaner.
Jamaica imports some 60,000 tonnes of brown sugar annually, mainly from other producing countries in the region to satisfy local demand. However, the additional 65,000 tonnes of the refined product that the country also consumes would still have to be sourced from overseas.
"I can safely say that as of this 2012-2013 crop year, all the raw sugar for local consumption will be supplied from locally produced sugar, but to be on the safe side, we might still do small pockets of imports just in case of a shortage," he confirmed.
Jamaica Cane Products Sales (JCPS) previously handled all sugar exports, but now they share marketing agent status with Pan Caribbean Sugar Company (PCSC) owner of Bernard Lodge, Monymusk and Frome sugar estates following the divestment of pieces of the Sugar Company of Jamaica's assets and sugar lands into private ownership.
The PCSC made no secret of its desire to operate independently of the local formula by which estates pool their product for the European market, arguing that it could get a better deal on its own. But it only managed to land a one-year supply deal for 20 tonnes of the sweetener with the European firm Sucres & Denrées at a price of €844 per tonne, with a window for an additional 15 tonnes if production is favourable.
The PCSC deal is a far cry from the near US$894 per tonne that the Karl James-led JCPS agreed in its three-year deal with British firm Tate and Lyle, with the buyer responsible for shipping.
However, the Chinese were forced to also postpone plans to construct their own port, and brokered a deal to share the Reynolds Pier facilities for this crop.
Assuming the Jamaican factories hit the 140,000-tonne target, JCPS would be able to supply the 60,000 tonnes of sugar to the domestic market, while the remainder will head to Europe.