Majority shares in the sugar factory are about to be acquired by American Sugar Refinery at a time when sugar has rebounded. The sugar crop has had a good season; production targets were exceeded, the quality of sugar is sound and farmers can expect to fetch a better price. But did you know that Belize is among the highest users of sugar in the world with over a hundred pounds per person per year. At a press conference this morning at Belize Sugar Industries Limited, the Factory Manager John Gillett provided a breakdown of how the season went.
Delahnie Bain, Reporting
The final delivery of sugar cane for the 2011-2012 season was accepted at around nine o’clock on Thursday night. Milling ended a half hour later, bringing an end to what is described as an excellent crop. The Belize Sugar Industries surpassed its projections by over twenty tons of milled cane and over four tons of sugar produced.
John Gillett, Factory Manager
“We milled one million, seventy thousand, one hundred and twenty-eight tons of sugar cane and that produced one hundred and fourteen thousand, five hundred and thirty-six tons of sugar; thirty-one thousand, one hundred and thirty-seven tons of molasses. That was milled at a grinding rate of two hundred and ninety-five tons per hour and the average tons cane per ton sugar ratio was nine point three-four.”
According to Factory Manager, John Gillett, everything worked in their favor; from the machinery to the weather. And it’s not just about quantity; the standards of quality were also upheld.
“We had an excellent crop; the weather, as I said, was very conducive for cane harvesting and even though the quality of the cane was not as good as it was for 2011, nonetheless it was still a very good year for cane quality. The farmers on the other hand, did well but last year when we had a cane quality of eight point five-seven tons of cane to make one ton of sugar, this year we ended up with nine point three-four; still a commendable standard. Two years ago, we had the commissioning of BELCOGEN and no doubt with new equipment, you expect to have quite a bit of break down. Last year, we saw very much improved results and this year I must say that BELCOGEN performed greatly. The factory had a great repair season and that resulted in us only having forty-three hours mechanical breakdown. The factory time efficiency, meaning that whatever time was available for the factory to mill cane, the factory operated at an outstanding record of ninety-eight point zero percent so we have never seen those figures before.”
A delivery by appointment system that was put in place in 2011, worked very well for both the farmers and factory, eliminating the queue of trucks that once lined up outside the B.S.I. compound. The cane is also delivered fresher and the system contributed to the record breaking efficiency of the factory.
“We had an extremely good year. We had sixty-one days operation above seven thousand tons, reaching an all time record of seven thousand, eight hundred and thirty-six tons of cane and that was on the fifteenth of March. We also had twenty-nine days operating between six thousand, five and seven thousand tons of cane and twenty-seven days between six thousand and six thousand, five hundred.”
B.S.I. also had room to increase production for the local market to ensure there’s no shortage of sugar in stores.
“We made just over fourteen thousand tons of plantation white for the local market. We also made two thousand, four hundred tons of local brown sugar and that is for the local market. Previously, the amount used to be in the range of thirteen thousand and maybe about two thousand, one hundred local brown. We have increased that production this year just to make sure we have enough for the local market.”
The next crop season is expected to open on November twenty-sixth. Delahnie Bain for News Five.
As for exports, the US market currently pays the highest and while the EU market has suffered thirty-six percent reduction, it is still paying a reasonable price. On average, sugar exports are bringing in an average of nine hundred to a thousand dollars per ton. Molasses is also selling around two hundred US dollars per ton, the highest price we’ve had in a while.