Sugar Technology
On-line News

April 2013

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Sorry for the lateness [work getting in the way of pleasure again!] :


The world price continued sagged to below the 18 ¢/lb level during March despite the fact that the start of the Brazil harvest seems to be delayed by rains.


The Serbian authorities have approved the takeover of Hellenic Sugar by its Serbia competitor Sunoko, having previously rejected it on the grounds of competition.


There is talk of a major drop in beet sowing in the Ukraine this year with figures as high as a 40% reduction. The problem is blamed on ‘huge losses’ last year because of the low sugar price.


Florida state’s House of Representatives has passed a law which requires cane growers to continue paying a $25/acre/annum tax to help clean up the Everglades until 2024. The tax was going to fall to $10/acre/annum in 2016.

You would have thought that the sugar lobby would be unhappy and the opponents of ‘big sugar’ would be happy but the opposite is true because now the tax cannot be increased before 2024, assuming that law becomes effective.


Last month’s news reported a budget of 1.7 million tons for Cuba’s current crop [December to April/May] but it looks doubtful : at the end of March the crop was 17% behind budget so it now all depends when the rains come as to how much cane can be crushed into May. The problems are endemic of course : breakdowns, lack of spare parts, poor management. The mills, for instance, are reported to be running at 65% of capacity, year to date.


Another unofficial analysis of Guysuco’s performance has been published by the local paper and it is just as depressing as last year’s. Most of the comments are about Skeldon II which is shown to have the worst performance across the board despite being the nominal ‘flagship’ of the group.


Cargill’s asset management, Black River, has bought one of the largest cane farms in Mackay, bringing in Mackay Sugar as a 15% junior partner. Although the purchase is only for ~ 700 ha, one has to wonder if it is the start of something much bigger with Cargill in the background.


One sometimes wonders about government ministers. Sri Lanka’s Sugar Industry Development Minister has told parliament that he has ‘taken measures’ to cultivate another 2 000 ha in 2013 to reduce sugar imports. Doesn’t he know that the country imports over 600 000 tons a year?


For the first time in over a decade the Pakistani government is allowing a substantial export quota : 1.2 million tons. It is just a pity that it coincides with a lower world price but the government is going to give the exporters a PR 1.75 per kg [about US¢ 1/lb] subsidy.


We may have just seen the first minor skirmish in what could end up as a major ‘sugar war’ in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. COMESA, which stretches from Libya and Egypt in the north to Madagascar and Swaziland in the south, has been struggling with opening up the market for sugar for at least 5 years now with Kenya being the main problem trying to protect its industry.

Last month a convoy of ten Zambia Sugar trucks were refused to entry to Kenya. It was only when Zambia slapped full duty on all Kenyan exports to Zambia in retaliation that the trucks were allowed through the border : watch this space!


The expansion of Ethiopia’s Wonji Shoa factory has been completed according to the government, but at some cost. The expansion, undertaken as part of an Indian soft loan deal, cost about $160 million for a capacity of 6250 tcd.


The Ghanaian government has announced that the refurbishment of the Komenda sugar factory [one would suspect ‘re-creation’ not refurbishment as it must now be 30 years since it closed] will start in July. What is not clear is whether the proposed work is still in cooperation with India as was originally announced last year.


Angola’s potential cane project in Waku Kungo, a high, flat river valley area has still not progressed and now the local government is asking for $625 million for its ‘dynamisation’ [sic]. Whilst that might be just one day’s oil revenues for Angola, it is a lot to pay for a sugar estate.


The Chisumbanje ethanol plant of Green Fuel was being re-started at the end of March having been shut down over 12 months ago because it couldn’t sell its ethanol in the country because there is no mandate. The company seems to have been forced to re-start by the government but it is unclear whether the government will now introduce mandatory E fuel.


Reports are appearing to say that the South African government has finally opened the electrical market to bagasse fired power stations.

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