Sugar Technology
On-line News

July 2014

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A quiet month, as expected :


STOP PRESS

ANOTHER MAJOR FIRE AT SANTOS PORT!

Monday August 04 : Another serious fire broke out yesterday evening, this time at the Cosan sugar terminal in Brazil's Santos port. It is only 10 months since the Copersucar fire. The world price again reacted almost instantly but not by as much as then and it seems to be only up 1% as this is written. It looks as if only one of the ten storage sheds was involved. There is a good report available on the internet.

WORLD PRICE

The world price continued to stagnate in June, bouncing around the 17 to 18 /lb range. The more interesting graphic, although it is early days yet, is the Indian cumulative monsoon map, this one to July 8 :

World Price

Green is for regions within 20% of normal, red – described as ‘deficient’ – is for those between -20 and -60% of normal and yellow – ‘scanty’ – is for those between -60% of normal and almost no rain at all.

MONGOLIA AND KYRGYZSTAN

Kyrgyzstan is signalling that it is prepared to accept Mongolia’s proposal for a [presumably beet based] joint sugar project in its country. There is currently only one factory in Kyrgyzstan and that is called Kaindy-Kant. Last year it processed 196 000 tons of beet, producing 25 000 tons of sugar. The problem seems to be the agriculture : those beets came from 7 300 ha spread across 4 000 farms.

INDIAN FUEL ETHANOL

The new government in Delhi certainly seems to be moving fast [or at least indicating that they are going to do so] : the road transport minister is talking about importing E85 engines from Brazil. The numbers involved are almost unimaginable : the current E5 mandate is estimated to require about 1 billion litres so E85 would be 17 times as much. Mind you, it is reported that less than one third of the required ethanol is available just for the E5 mandate [which might explain why it is not being adhered to].

Whatever happens, the impact on quoted sugar company share prices was more or less instantaneous with 6 to 10% rises.

INDONESIA

A company called ‘PT Gendhis Multi Manis’ has opened a new 6000 tcd factory at Blora in northern central Java, not far from Pakis Baru. The company reports that the factory cost about $150 million with a project debt to equity ratio of 2:1. It also says that it is about to start building a new 24000 tcd factory on Madura, just offshore [there is a 5 km causeway] from Surabaya in eastern Java.

QUEENSLAND SUGAR

Another nail went into the QSL coffin in June when COFCO, the Chinese owner of Tully Sugar announced that it too would no longer sell its output through state sugar desk. That only leaves Mackay Sugar [5 mills] and Bundaberg Sugar [2 mills] aligned with QSL.

USA

The three main refiners all pushed up their prices substantially in June, a typical new price being 37 /lb which is $814 per metric ton. The consensus view is that the government will proceed against Mexico with the possible anti-dumping charges and that there will be insufficient beet production to balance the reduced imports.

JAMAICA

The government in Jamaica is adamant that the island’s sugar industry can rise to the challenges which will result from the EU’s 2017 regime change. It is saying that it will be producing 3.5 million tons of cane by, variously, 2015 to 2018 and that the cane will be used for 200 000 tons of sugar, rum, fuel ethanol and electricity export. All it needs is the investment …

When one looks at the ISO data for Jamaica though, it is doubtful how this will be achieved as it was about 15 years ago that those levels were evident :

Jamaican Production

BELIZE

The row about bagasse value is apparently still brewing at Tower Hill. Although the principle that the farmers should be paid something for it was agreed earlier in the year, the quantum was not agreed. Apparently the company is offering 51 per ton while the famers are demanding $10. The government is cautioning that the issue needs to be settled – the real issue being the EU regime change in 2017 when who knows what the ACP countries will get for their raws.

BRAZIL

No, not football, the sugar industry. Commentator continue to paint a poor picture of the industry with ISO being quoted as saying that 5 to 10 mills are closing each year, albeit pointing out that it is processing more cane with fewer mills. That is all very well when the weather is good but during bad years that just means that the weather impact is greater than would otherwise be the case.

SOUTHERN AFRICA STRIKES

Last month we carried the story about the South African workers going on strike. In the end that was called off after an agreed settlement with a 10% pay increase for the lowest paid workers down to an 8.75% increase for the highest paid.

No sooner than that had been sorted out than the workers at Tongaat Hulett's operation in Triangle threatened to strike, also for low wages, and Illovo’s workers at Ubombo Ranches did go on strike for more money. That strike is still ongoing.

BEET FUNGICIDE

A US company is offering UK beet farmers a fungicide which it claims will target ‘all four foliar diseases’ of sugar beet : rust, powdery mildew, Cercospora and Ramularia. Is that too good to be true or will it end up like neonicitinoids and be banned just when it is needed?

SWEET SORGHUM

The University of Queensland is working with the Chinese Academy of Sciences on a project to extract commercial quantities of speciality sugars such as isomaltulose from sweet sorghum. As one of the issues with sorghum has always been the value of its juice content coupled with the need to run extraction before using the ‘bagasse’ as boiler fuel, this may be a way forward.