Sugar Technology
On-line News

January 2008

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Just like the Great War, the armistice in the North American sugar war was scheduled well in advance of the cessation. Under NAFTA, it happened as we moved from last year to this so that as you read this Mexico could, theoretically, be swamping the USA with sugar. In practice both sides are worried that their market will be swamped by cheap imports from the other.

Last crop year Mexico produced a surplus of several hundred thousand tons of sugar and could make a lot more in its 57 factories. The problem is that its industry is not efficient and is strike ridden so perhaps the US producers have less to fear than they think.


Florida Crystals, through its ASR subsidiary [Domino that was], has purchased the San Nicolas cane factory in the Veracruz state of Mexico. San Nicolas is a relatively small factory which produces about 75 000 tons of what the Mexicans call ‘superior’ sugar.

Meanwhile, the sale of Tate & Lyle’s 49% shareholding in Mexico’s Saenz group to ED&F Man received approval from the government just before Christmas and the deal was completed on December 28.


There seems to be another row or two brewing between the Caribbean countries and the EU over sugar. The EU is saying that sugar produced in one of the APC countries and processed in another [as would be the case if the long mooted Trinidad refinery went ahead] loses its APC origin. The EU also wants to keep Caribbean sugar out of Guadeloupe and Martinique, islands which are legally part of France and hence within the EU. The fundamental issue is, of course, that none of the Caribbean countries are LDC’s and therefore don’t qualify for the EBA programme : they essentially rely on Europe’s ‘good’ will.


The beet factory in York was closed at the end of the last campaign but it was run again during December : for just one week. Apparently the EU insisted that British Sugar demonstrated that the factory was ‘operational’ if it was to be considered for a particular closure grant so BS shipped in thick syrup from another factory and made sugar.


Belgium’s Iscal Sugar, owned by the Lippens family and hence cousin to Australia’s Bundaberg, has announced the closure of its larger factory at Moerbeke. In 2006 [the last year for which figures are publicly available] Moerbeke produced 163 548 tons of sugar while Fontenoy, the other factory, only produced 127 592.


Last year we reported that the French sugar group Tereos [Beghin Say that was] had purchased a 50% stake in Sena, the owner of Marromeu and [the now defunct] Luabo factories in Moçambique. It has now increased its holding – which is held through its Brazilian subsidiary Guarani – from 50 to 75%.


Kakira Sugar, the Madhvani company, has failed in its legal bid to stop the another factory from being erected close to its own. The construction of the new factory, Mayuge Sugar, started almost immediately afterwards, only 16 km from Kakira. Whether Kakira should be concerned is another matter : the owners of Mayuge intend to only spend US$5 million initially and plan to crush 500 tcd from March 2009. [Kakira must be rated at over 3000 tcd these days.]


The Indian government has implemented its scheme to lend money to sugar mills so that they can pay for the cane they have crushed. Presumably the problem has arisen because of the large surplus created by the large increase in crop size following the encouragement given to new sugar mills by the same government …

The government has also indicated that it is contemplating extending the controversial transport subsidy on sugar exports, currently scheduled to run out in April this year. Last month we reported that Australia and Thailand had lodged a complaint against the subsidy with the WTO.


Khon Kaen Sugar of Thailand has held 50% of the new Koh Kong sugar estate in Cambodia since 2006. It has now announced the establishment of the estate’s 6000 tcd factory, to be finished in early 2009 to coincide with the first commercial crop.


Some Brazilian technologists have been granted a US patent for the use of lecithins to improve the crystal yield of sugar in the pan and subsequent curing. Lecithins are naturally occurring phospholipids so presumably their surfactant properties are affecting the crystallisation in some way. The patent covers doses from as low as 10 ppm up to 200 ppm. You can read more online

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