Sugar Technology
On-line News

January 2007

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Happy New Year! Not too much news but a few nuggets in there ...


Following last month’s news item about the five EU countries fined for stockpiling sugar before joining the EU [a news item timed for one month before Bulgaria and Rumania joined the EU], Malta has been implicated by the EU’s Anti-Fraud Office in smuggling sugar into the EU under the guise of ACP sugar. Although the quantity is small [4 000 tons are reported to have been ‘misdescribed’] the tax evaded was over € 2 million.


The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics [ABARE] certainly managed to hit the headlines by predicting in its December 2006 Quarterly report that the average sugar price would fall to 11.9 ¢/kg [i.e. 5.4 ¢/lb] in 2007. As the price has bumped along between 11 and 12 ¢/lb since dropping back to that level in September one has to presume that Australian economists cannot tell their pounds from their kilograms. [BTW, the accompanying graph in the ABARE report shows a current price of about 12 $/t so the maths isn’t too strong either : let’s hope that doesn’t come true.]


Lemna International, a US based project developer, has announced a US$ 50 million sugar cane based ethanol project for Taraba state in central eastern Nigeria. No technical details were released other than the cane would come from 30 to 50 000 hectares, all grown by outgrowers.

The company is certainly ambitious : it wants the plant commissioned on “April 27 2007”.


The government in Moçambique has published its 2006 sugar statistics : 242 500 tons of sugar from just over 2 million tons of cane. Production was down from both the 2005 figure [265 000 tons] and the budget 279 000 tons] for a variety of natural and man-made reasons. Next year’s budget is for 292 000 tons from 2.5 million tons of cane.


A picture of the ethanol market in India is beginning to emerge. The petroleum companies are requesting tenders for 550 million litres per annum which, apparently, equates to 5% inclusion “in most states”. [Only one third of the states have so far mandated ethanol blending.] The Federal Government estimates that the country already produces 1.3 billion litres of fuel ethanol and predicts 2.3 billion by 2008/9 although Licht reported only 300 million in 2005.


Amalgamated Sugar will have fully commissioned the world’s largest steam driven pulp dryer at its Nampa factory by the time that you read this. The unit, supplied by EnerDry of Denmark, has a capacity of 71 t/h water evaporation when driven by 2 800 kPa steam. It has been equipped with a two stage superheater in order to deliver both 1 480 and 2 800 kPa process steam. [To understand the basics of such a dryer, read the paper given at in Madrid 2003.


Fiji finished its crop in November with 320 000 tons of sugar produced from 3.3 million tons of cane but with concerns about its level of dextran in the raws produced. You rarely hear such comments from a producer : they usually come from the poor refiner at the other end of the supply chain.


The Australian Federal Government has allocated a further Aus $ 33 million for reform of the supposedly free market sugar industry. About a third of that will go as grant to Mackay Sugar for a Aus $ 95 million export co-generation project.

Meanwhile, the industry is gearing up to test transgenic cane. It has proposed a three year trial on “fewer than 18 ha” of land in a location still to be agreed. The trial would be a test of the genetic modification techniques used and would evaluate “certain traits” that have been inserted in the cane. Opponents have already commented on the unacceptability of the trials, claiming that the inserted genes include some that cause antibiotic resistance in humans.


Despite the court findings that we reported last month, Mumias seems to be pressing ahead with its version of the Tana River sugar project. It has announced a ‘short ‘ list [there are still 13 potential tenderers] of consultants to undertake the feasibility study.


An Egyptian ‘billionaire’ [there are 5.7 Egyptian pounds to the US$] has announced a $150 million sugar refinery to be built in the El Nubaria region. However, as the region appears to be in the western delta we assume that it is a beet factory he is proposing to build.


Anglo American has been switching management of its sugar assets. It has a controlling interest in Tongaat Hulett but has always held its controlling interest in Hippo Valley outside of that group. That has now changed with Tongaat’s Triangle [just 25 km down the valley from Hippo in the Zimbabwean lowveldt] purchasing Anglo’s 50.4% shareholding for a knock-down price.

The move is presumably part of Anglo’s plans to sell or float off Tongaat which would have left it with just the one estate.

Tongaat itself seems sufficiently confident of its white sugar milling [WSM] process to make a formal announcement about it. The original concept was to improve the quality of molasses so that a local lysine producer would have a better feedstock for its fermentation. That company, SA Bioproducts, is Tongaat’s joint venture partner in the development of the process. One has to ask whether the economics stand up on their own without such a demand although it is claimed that the molasses also improves the ethanol yield in that fermentation.

You can find out more about the process from the Tongaat sugar web domain.


Australian company Horizon Science has now patented low glycaemic index sugar so more information is becoming available. The product has higher than usual amounts of sugar cane polyphenols which reduce the rate at which the human body can digest sucrose. This lowers the GI index from the 65 of normal sugar to 51 and is also reported to reduce body fat and increase muscle.

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