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Imported refined white sugar in stock for next two weeks; BSI confirms it will cost twice the local price

Posted: Wednesday, January 10, 2024. 8:50 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Belize Sugar Industries Limited (BSI) has had to resort to importing 250 metric tons of refined white sugar to cover a shortage of plantation white sugar caused by contraband sales and the late start of the 2023-2024 season.

In a statement issued today, the company reiterates that the importation is hopefully one-time only, covering the next two weeks until it can mill Belizean-made plantation white sugar for domestic sale, with sugar cane contributed by all four major sugar planters’ associations.

Sales commenced today, Wednesday, for an acquisition cost of $59.26 per 50 pound bag or $1.19 per pound wholesale. With markup from resellers and retailers, the retail price will reach as high as between $1.50 and $1.60 per pound depending on the distance from the Tower Hill factory.

The Supplies Control Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture has indicated that the price controls in place only apply to Belizean-made white sugar, which retails for 75 cents per pound. There are no controls in place for the sale of imported sugar.

BSI further explained that local consumption of plantation white sugar rose in 2023 to 12,000 metric tons annually from 10 thousand because of the sugar crunch in the northern triangle of Central America, where shortages in Guatemala and Mexico caused their prices to go up, and Belizean sellers deciding to sell our much cheaper sugar for greater profit, in some cases via contraband. This is expected to continue in 2024.

BSI concludes that the low local prices for white and brown sugar must be addressed to ease the pressure on domestic supply, but notes that brown sugar, of which about 3,000 metric tons is consumed locally, remains available.

Additionally, BSI says the importation will have no impact on the cane payment to farmers for the 2024 crop as that is based solely on local production.

 

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