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Quite a bit on the wires about the sugar price but this is not surpising : every year November is the month of the ISO meeting in London.
The price is still around the 8.8 to 9 US¢/lb mark but Smith Barney are predicting that it may be in the 15 to 16 US¢/lb range in 2005. Unfortunately, they were using the argument to try and talk up the price of their client’ s [CSR] share price.
The major factor in determining price will be the deficit. The problem is that different forecasts give very different deficit figures :
SUCRALOSE LAW SUIT
Sucralose must be doing well, one of its competitors [‘Equal’] has brought a law suit against McNeil Nutritionals, T+L’s partner responsible for marketing the ‘Splenda’ household product, for claiming that Splenda is made from sugar. Equal grumbles that the slogan should be more like ‘made from 4-chloro-4-deoxy-alpha, D-Galactopyranosyl-1,6-dichloro-1,6-dideoxy-beta, D-fructofuranoside’. That should make Equal an alpha-D-Glucopyranosyl beta-D-fructofuranoside substitute then.
'LIGHT CANE' SUGAR
Meanwhile, T+L has started to market what it calls ‘Light Cane’, a calorie reduced sugar. The press release says that it is made from sugar, Sucralose and maltodextrin so it is, in essence, a blend of Splenda and sugar. The product is designed to have only 2/3rds the calories of pure sugar.
A split is appearing in the EU [no surprise really with 25 sovereign nations] over the proposed reforms of the sugar regime with ten countries writing to the new Agricultural Commissioner stating that the existing distribution of sugar beet and sugar production should be maintained. In other words, ‘keep off our industry’. The ten are Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain.
At a meeting of the 25 Agricultural Ministers it seems to have been resolved that the reforms would be delayed in any case but Mariann Fischer Boel, the new Commissioner, said that it was imperative that political agreement was reached before the WTO meeting in December 2005. Perhaps divine intervention will be required? [see tailpiece]
CSR, the Australian group, has been working on transgenic cane for the last four years with the University of Queensland and believes that the interbreeding risk with cane is very low. The company does not expect any major commercialisation before 2010.
Now Thailand is talking of drought, following the example of India. The rainy season ended a month early this year and the crop size is being talked down below 55 million tons of cane when the estimate was as high as 58 million tons earlier in 2004. India’s crop estimate is also lower than the last crop, a year in which production plunged by over 20%.
An evaporator body exploded at Western Sugar’s Fort Morgan factory last month but luckily nobody was seriously injured. The plant was back up and running within 36 hours with a quin evaporator instead of a sextuple. It is unclear what caused the explosion and why the safety device(s) failed to relieve the pressure.
Over in the Red River valley, American Crystal reported that about 10 000 tons of beets would remain un-harvested because of wet conditions around its Drayton factory. Although that is about 6½% of Drayton’s beets, it is only 2% of the company’s total crop.
The USDA has again marked down its latest forecast for the 2004 cane crop : it now stands at 30.3 million tons of cane from 961 600 acres [389 146 ha]. That is 31.5 t/acre.
Algeria has sold Enasucre to a local private company called Blanky International. Enasucre produces about 200 000 t/a of sugar from three processing plants.
HEAVEN INVITED BY EU TO MAKE THE CASE FOR SUGAR
Clearly the Commission is getting desperate …. Unfortunately, this delightful headline was only about Jamaica’s Derrick Heaven, the executive chairman of the island’s Sugar Industry Authority.