Sugar Technology
On-line News

September 2010

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Not such an interesting month although a nugget or two :


The world price was back over 20 /lb by the end of August with all sorts of possible explanations – including the re-banning of transgenic beet in the USA [see below]. That is despite the latest Indian crop estimates climbing again and an easing of the shipping problems in Brazil. Who would be a trader?


The one sugar asset not included in the sale to ASR was the NATL factory in Vietnam. T&L has now told that the government there that it will sell. Its only problem will be finding a buyer : the Lippens family had an option when they purchased Bundaberg from the group but they declined to trigger the option.


Yet another sugar project has been announced in Egypt, this time by a sugar trading company called Al Nouran which says it has the license, it ‘just’ needs the finance. The $335 million (!) plan is for a hybrid beet factory and raws refinery in the northeast, apparently near Damietta. The initial capacity will be 500 000 t/a white sugar [with a doubling planned for 2015] of which roughly half will be from beet. It should be said that Al Nouran previously announced the project in 2007 so it must have taken this long to obtain the license [or the finance?].


Hassad Food, owned by the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar has announced that it intends to acquire a sugar project in Brazil. The only problem is that it is claiming the project will produce “25 million tonnes per annum” and that 70% of that will be exported to Qatar. Even if that is sugarcane and not sugar, it is still a lot of sugar for 1.5 million people to consume.


The Indian millers are asking permission to re-export 750 000 tons of sugar [it is unclear whether it is raws or whites] which is apparently stuck in Mundra, a port on the north west coast, because all available rail transport is being used to move fertiliser.

Latest estimates for the Indian crop 2010/11 are for at least 25 million tons of sugar and perhaps as much as 28 million.


Not a headline one wants to see but it was reported last month that in the season to date Fiji crushed 382 000 tons of cane to produce just 27,155 tons of raws : 14 TCTS! There are four mills in the country and one of them, Rarawai, dragged down the national average as its TCTS is reported to have been a terrible 26.


It has emerged that Wilmar raised US$ 1.1 billion of additional debt in order to buy Sucrogen, the CSR sugar division.

In the meantime, the company has announced that it is buying Jawamanis Rafinasi, a 1000 t/d RSO sugar refiner in Indonesia and Windsor & Brook, a Singapore sugar trader. It is also planning to develop a 200 000 ha (!) sugar estate on the Indonesian side of New Guinea.


In our April news we reported that a previous ruling in the US banning transgenic beet had been overthrown. That ruling was apparently to allow the suppliers to sell the seed so the the original judge has now re-banned the sowing of the seed. He is requiring the USDA to undertake an EIA [surely they must have done that before?]. Expect to see this back in the US Supreme Court very soon.


The proposed state purchase of USSC land for Everglades regeneration has been downsized yet again. It started [surely two years ago now?] as a $1,75 billion agreement to buy all 180 000 acres but has been cut back and time again until the latest version, announced in early August, is now a mere $197 million for 26 800 acres of land planted mainly to citrus. There are, however, apparently options to buy additional land for $7 500 per acre over the next 10 years.

Of course, the major stumbling block is still in place : the land will be useless for its intended purpose without land belonging to Florida Crystals further south.


Regular readers will remember the big freeze at the end of the last crop in Louisiana. The local farmers and their support team are optimistic however as this year’s growing season has been particularly good.


More details of the sale of Frome, Monymusk and Bernard Lodge to the Chinese company Complant became clear last month. In addition to the immediate US$ 9 purchase price, Complant is committed to investing US$ 127 million in field and agriculture. However, the agreement will only become effective in 12 months to allow SCJ to deliver the 100 000 tons of sugar it has pre-sold to Tate & Lyle.

There is also talk of investing a further $220 million in a new factory but that is a longer strategy and subject to a feasibility study to be complete some time next year.


Cosan, brought a few months ago by Shell, has announced that it intends to continue to acquire more factories. That is the value of having such a large owner.


A company called Mashkour Sugar has announced a new project in the White Nile region of the Sudan using Indian export credit and equity. The project is valued at $280 and will produce 140 000 t/a sugar plus 30 million litres of ethanol. Compare that to Kenana’s $1.1 billion White Nile project which will produce 400 000 t/a of sugar and yet Kenana is said to be a shareholder in this new project. Strange.


The government in Kenya is saying that the privatisation of the remaining factories is ‘on course’ despite it having missed its own June deadline. The statement came from the Minister of Agriculture who reminded us [as if we needed reminding] that the industry has been ‘sleeping’ and needs ‘reviving’ so the factories needed to be made viable before they could be sold.

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