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Dec 6, 2023

No Sugar Noh Deh

You’ve probably been to the store to purchase some sugar and got a strange response that there’s none. Some grocers have been limiting the amount of sugar their customers can purchase in order to allow the reduced number of sacks they have been able to source to spread across for everyone to get. But with Christmas season almost here, and the demand for sugar expected to increase considering that a lot of cakes will also be in demand, News Five tried to get answers as to what is happening to all the sugar that this sugar-producing country is milling. Marion Ali reports.


Marion Ali, Reporting

The shelves where sugar should be stacked high, considering that Belize is a sugar-producing country, are empty and have been mostly so for at least a couple months now. The problem is that the supermarkets and grocery stores have, for that period, been experiencing a shortage of the product from their distributors – who are the people who buy sugar from the factory at the Belize Sugar Industries Limited and resell it to the for retail sale.


Jose Obando

Jose Obando, Floor Manager, 88 Shopping Centre

“The companies say that they don’t have sugar available, which is funny because Belize is actually one of the industries (countries) that produce sugar. Every time that we go and ask for their sugar, they always tell us that there’s limited, like, limited stock available. Usually we order 50 sacks, but they only give us 10.”


Floor Manager at 88 Shopping Centre, Jose Obando says the ten sacks of sugar their distributor provides is done in less than a week. Because their supplies are limited, they have to limit their customers as well so that everyone who wants to buy can get.


Jose Obando

“We usually just pound it off by three pounds so that maybe most of the customers can get. And we limit them as well. We can’t give them more than three pounds, yeah, although some of them really need it because then they do like sugar – cakes or something like that, like bakery.”


For at least a couple months now, there’s been a scarcity of sugar on the shelves in these stores. But how comes? Word is that some of the distributors who buy from B.S.I and sell wholesale to the stores have been cutting down on their supply locally and selling instead to neighbouring countries, where it sells for more than double the price.


Jose Obando

“There’s been rumors about it, that they’re selling it over the next countries for a higher price. So, the locals, the Belizeans here – a product that belongs to us is being scarce for us.”


One distributor for Circle R Rice, Alberto Rodriguez, who supplies rice and sugar to stores and shops in the Belize District told News Five via phone today that there is a quota system and their company has been trying to be fair with their customers, the retailers.


Via Phone: Alberto Rodriguez, Sugar Distributor, Belize District

“I believe our quota is like maybe like a thousand, that’s a small one, right? That’s a 55 pound sugar every month.”


Marion Ali

A thousand bags?


Via Phone: Alberto Rodriguez

“Yeah, a thousand bags. Yeah, we can’t, they don’t give us more than that and don’t give us less than that, right. That’s the quota for the, for the month.  So, yeah, we pay for a quota every month, we get our quota, we pick it up from Orange Walk – BSI. We transport it to Belize City branch and then we start distributing, right, to every store. We try to share it up as fairly as possible, right. So depending on the size of the store, you know, the biggest stores, of course, they buy a lot of rice, which is our main product, right, and then they get a little bit more, but we try to get everybody, even the market, to get some sugar. BSI only gives us the quota. We ask for more, but they don’t give us more.”


Marion Ali

“Are Circle R Distributors taking the sugar and selling it across the borders?”


Via Phone: Alberto Rodriguez

“No, definitely not, definitely not. All our consumers, we have our records right there at the office there. Everything is, is on check and balance, and, and our CEO, you know, Mentioned to all the branches and that, that, that, that is happening at the BSI is looking at that.”


The concern that Obando and most supermarkets have is how they will supply everyone who wants sugar for their Christmas cakes.


Marion Ali

“When will you restock?”


Jose Obando

“It all depends on the company.”


Marion Ali

“When did they tell you they’d have?”


Jose Obando

“They didn’t give us a good answer. If the industry is not giving us any sugar, then we’ll just have to let the customers know that sorry, no cake this year.”


News Five reached out to the Belize Marketing and Development Corporation which also distributes sugar, as well as to B.S.I., and C.E.O in the Ministry of Agriculture, Servulo Baeza for their input. Baeza was in Cabinet meeting, the corporation had no one available to comment, and B.S.I said they will issue a release on the situation. Marion Ali for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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