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Not much to report, perhaps the northern summer doldrums are early :
The world price continued to bounce around in the 17 to 18 ¢/lb range during May but perhaps it is starting to look more and more like a bottom in the market :
There certainly seems to be a pessimistic view of global production developing with several commentators suggesting that the expected El Niño event will impact on harvests around the world - July rain in Brazil; poor monsoon in India; relatively dry conditions in the rest of Asia and Australia. The dry summer earlier this year in Brazil is also cited with talk of the harvest being as much as 20% lower because of it.
The view of ISO is that a more balanced sugar market [supply equals demand] can be expected in 2014/15. At the time of writing, June 6, the monsoon had just arrived in India but about a week late and with rather weak rains. Only time will tell.
It is always interesting to cross reference press reports. Last month the Prime Minister of Mauritius visited Ghana to strengthen bilateral relations and to explore investment in Ghana's sugar industry. The press in Mauritius saw it as benefiting that island while the Ghanaian press saw it as benefiting Ghana.
What was strange was that the most likely project to come out of the visit would be somewhere to the north of Tamale so in the semi-arid region where water is a scarce commodity.
Finchaa, to the north west of Addis Ababa, has finally started on a plan to double its capacity with the development of another 11,700 ha of sugarcane planting. After the expansion it is reported that the factory will produce 210 000 tons of sugar and 20 million litres of ethanol per annum with an export capability of 10 MW.
Most people have written off Chemelil factory but it seems that the Kenyan government has not. It invested over $5 million last year on what the factory calls a 'major rehabilitation' and is investing another $1.4 million this year on a new turboalternator which will reportedly save $170 000 per month in electricity purchase. That is an 8 month payback. It is unclear whether it doesn't have a TA set at all at the moment or whether it is so far out of balance that it cannot satisfy its own demand.
About 5,500 workers in South Africa's sugar industry walked out on strike towards the end of May - and were still on strike at the end of the month without any obvious conclusion in sight. It is a bit unclear who is involved but we think it is the factory workers with talk that some factories were continuing to operate at reduced capacity.
Jamal Al Ghurair, the director of the Al Khaleej refinery in Dubai, is branching out via a company wholly owned by his daughter Hassa. A JV MoU has been signed with MSM, the Malaysian sugar refiner. The JV, if it goes ahead, would build a 6000 t/d refinery in Johor, just 10 km from the western tip of Singapore.
Sugar Cane Research Centre in Fiji has launched two new cane varieties [Qamea and Viwa] said to be locally developed and adapted to the islands' conditions. The one is an early/mid maturing variety with high yield and suitable to 'all soil types' while the other is a mid/late high fibre variety which, although tall and thin, does not lodge. The latter is said to be tolerant of dry conditions, grows well in very poor soils and is not susceptible to flowering.
Meanwhile, the country is introducing a payment by quality system from next month although the intention is that it will only track quality this year so that it is fully commissioned for live use next crop. The system is based on on-line NIR analysis so there is no cane sampling involved.
The mill owners in Australia are getting nervous about the country's 'Renewable Energy Target', telling the government that it was 'vital for the Australian sugar industry' and underpinned 'continuation of sugar industry investment'. It claims that $300 million has already been invested by the industry with another $1 billion planned.
SECOND US MEXICO TRADE WAR
Once the NAFTA sugar regime was finally ratified we all thought that peace would return but no, as we reported in April, the American Sugar Coalition has filed dumping claims against Mexico and last month the US 'International Trade Commission' ruled that Mexico appeared to be operating unfair trade practices. That in turn forces the US Department of Commerce to investigate . watch this space!
AUDUBON AND TISSUE ENGINEERING
Researchers at the Audubon Sugar Institute are working on novel polymers for human tissue engineering using molecules extracted from both molasses and bagasse. They have reportedly identified polymers suitable for both bone tissue growth and skin tissue growth.