Sugar Technology
On-line News

February 2013

Welcome to our news page!

We try to bring you the latest news and comment on this page but it will always be a better place if you send us your news. You can write to us by clicking on the Contact link at the left.

Not much worthwhile news this month :


Will we actually see Hellenic Sugar sold this time? Apparently the government has four bids for the company which it wants to privatise, one each from France [Cristal Union], Poland, Bulgaria and Serbia. The outcome should be known in time for the next news.


Are we on the brink of another collapse in India’s annual production? Ignore the technical factors [a spell of dry weather is worrying some forecasters] and look at the commercial. The millers are losing money because the growers want so much for their sugarcane so in a world where the price has come down they just won’t pay as much any more and India’s growers are very fickle, they will pull out of the crop very quickly even if there are sunk costs in planting the crop.


In December we reported that the Ceylonese government had granted Renuka Sugars a license to build a 2000 t/d RSO refinery on the island. Last month the Minister for Productivity Promotion announced that the country would be self-sufficient within 7 years with 15 new factories coming on line. That would make the refinery redundant but somehow we doubt that he will achieve his goal : he is looking for the private sector to invest, not the government.


Four new sugar factories have come on stream in the current Thai crop and this is reflected in the crushing rates which are significantly higher than last year. Unfortunately the cane quality is poor this crop [11.2 tcts compared to 10.1 last crop] so sugar production is lower so far this year than last.


No, it is not another way of saying Happy New year in Chinese : Botian Zhangbei is British Sugar’s latest sugarbeet factory and it seems to be performing well if you believe what the contractor is saying.


Queensland’s cane land was subject to very high rainfall in late January as a result of a weather system which started as cyclone Oswald. The cyclone actually formed in the Gulf of Carpentaria and swept south and east across Queensland, something we have never seen before. Flooding has been extensive but it is too early to have any real assessment of the damage, if any, to the crop.


A new rum distillery – selling ‘Bayou Rum’ – has sprung up at Lacassine. What we are not clear about is whether it is based on the site of the long defunct [but almost new] sugar mill there.


Barbados still has hopes for its sugar industry although the chances of it surviving are remote. Last month a delegation from Marubeni visited the island with plans for a possible new facility. It seems that there is nothing new in the thinking however : it would be built at the Andrews factory and still only process 330 000 tons of sugarcane each year.


The government in Guyana is blaming the climate for Guysuco’s poor performance over the last few years. It says that the practical crop lengths have shrunk from both being 16 weeks to the first being 13 weeks and the second only 11 weeks [being more or less equatorial, Guyana has two rainy periods and hence two crops per annum]. The performance has certainly been poor :

 Budget [t] Actual [t]
2009 290 000 234 000
2010 264 000 221 000
2011 300 000 235 000
2012 265 000 236 000


The Al-Ghurair Group from the UAE is proposing to invest US$ 500 million to build a sugarbeet factory in Egypt. Although related to Jamal Al-Ghurair from the Al Kaleej refinery by family, the company is understood not be in the same ownership structure as the refinery.


Kenya has undertaken a major reform of its agricultural laws, in theory to simplify the system and encourage more people into the sector. What is not clear is whether that will help or hinder the proposed privatisation of the remaining government sugar mills, a process which should have been completed many years ago,


The crop in Zimbabwe continues to improve as the country tries to overcome the difficulties of past years and return to its previous production levels. The budget for the coming crop is 430 000 tons, up 16% on the previous crop and mainly due to increased cane land. The country hopes to export 160 000 tons of that.


Eskom, the government’s near monopoly electrical supplier is proposing a 16% increase in the price of electricity. SA Cane Growers' Association is claiming that that will lead to the closure of four sugar factories and the loss of up to 35 000 jobs. What we don’t understand is why the Association doesn’t see it as an opportunity to export electricity [as long as Eskom will finally agree to allow that]. As a minimum the industry should be substantially isolated from the price of electricity and as all sugar now seems to be sold locally the price will just float up to reflect on residual influence.

Homepage  Return to Current News  Page Top