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Sep 5, 2014

ASR Clarifies Fair-trade Sugar Misconceptions

There was quite a scare in the sugar industry last week, when it was announced that there would be a considerable reduction in the quantity of fair-trade sugar to be purchased by Tate & Lyle for the European market.  Farmers, for whatever reason, were of the impression that the change would abruptly come into effect during the current crop season, diminishing the quota from sixty-five thousand to a mere ten thousand tons of sugar.  On Wednesday, the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association received a letter stating that the company will proceed with the acquisition in full; however, the changes, which have been discussed since January, will come into effect in the 2014-2015 crop season.  Today, News Five spoke with Mac McLachlan, of ASR, and he cleared up the misconceptions surrounding issue.

 

Mac McLachlan, International Business Advisor, ASR

Mac McLachlan

“The first thing I wanted to say, and this really is a misconception and we’ve picked this up from discussions with a number of farmers that there’s a feeling that Tate & Lyle Sugars will only be buying ten thousand tons of sugar from Belize next year, which is completely false and, you know, we would be happy to buy all the sugar that’s produced in Belize.  What the issue is, is that the B.S.C.F.A. has been alerted to the fact that the volumes of sugar that attract the fair-trade premium are falling and they are falling because of market conditions in the European Union.  And to put this into a little bit more context, I mean, European Union sugar prices are falling and have been falling quite dramatically in recent months.  Over the last eighteen months they’ve dropped by nearly forty percent and it’s a very, very tight and competitive market in Europe.  They are falling because supply is increasing of sugar in Europe and because it’s such a competitive market it’s becoming more increasingly difficult to attract retailers to purchase fair-trade sugar and that means regrettably, that the volumes of sugar for the next year’s crops are likely to be lower.  These are the volumes that we can actually sell into the market in Europe and they are going to be lower across the board for all the different suppliers who supply Tate & Lyle with fair-trade sugar.  And I think another misconception is that, you know, this would have an impact this year because we have already been contracted through fair-trade sugar supply in Belize to purchase the sixty-five thousand tons of sugar which we are doing and, in fact, more than half of the revenue has come back to B.S.C.F.A.  In total, the revenue will be almost eight million Belize dollars that will becoming to B.S.C.F.A. this year for fair-trade.”

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