GuySuCo exported over 70,000 tonnes of sugar for 2020 – CEO
– aiming to export more value-added products for 2021
The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) exported over 70,000 tonnes of sugar in 2020 but with most of this being bulk sugar, the corporation is looking to dramatically increase its value-added exports over the next few years.
In an exclusive interview with this publication, GuySuCo’s Chief Executive Officer, Sase Singh, explained that GuySuCo exported 71,000 tonnes of sugar in 2020 but the eventual plan is to have 61 per cent of their exports be value-added products within five years.
“We basically produced about 88,898 metric tonnes. But we sold about 92,000 metric tonnes, because of some inventory left back from 2019. About 21,000 of that was sold locally, while the rest was exported.”
“But the unfortunate news is that the majority of it was in the bulk sugar market place. Now if we’re producing sugar at close to $600 a metric tonne, and you’re selling at $300 a metric tonne, that’s not business for me,” he said.
Singh explained that at present, only 29 per cent of GuySuCo’s sales are value-added products. This was the case for last year. However, he was optimistic that this could be increased to 38 per cent by the end of 2021.
“But based on our business plan, we’re taking that up to 61 per cent in five years. The majority of the business will be at the profitable end of the business. We have a plan and we’re working towards it. But what is the pre-requisite?”
“We gotta fix the factories, we gotta fix the creek cane transport route, we gotta fix the land preparation and planting system. Because it’s not functioning at the optimal level. And we’re appealing for patience because as we fix these things, we’re going to be able to penetrate more in the international market at the value-added level,” the CEO added.
At present, GuySuCo produces packaged sugar in the form of Enmore Crystals, Demerara and Berbice Gold. Singh explained why buying processed, packaged sugar is the better option for consumers.
“We’re committed to producing what the market needs, which is value-added, packaged sugar in hygienic conditions. You see, there’s a vast difference between a young man or lady in the back of a shop, packaging sugar, sweating into those bags and selling it to you. It’s not good.”
“We can’t sell that to consumers. And so, what GuySuCo does, no human being touches that sugar. It moves from the factory into the package and it is sealed automatically. So, the bottom line is, it makes sense buying GuySuCo’s Enmore Crystals and Demerara Gold,” Singh said.
When it comes to Berbice Gold, Singh noted that while this is usually sold in Berbice, they plan to expand it across the entire country. In fact, the CEO revealed that the corporation is searching for distributors.
GuySuCo has also been allocated $2 billion in Budget 2021 by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP/C) Government, for capital works to be undertaken at the various estates to help in the turnaround of the sugar industry.
During his reading of the $383.1 billion budget on Friday, Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh said his party intends to stay true to its promise to help revive the industry, highlighting that they have already begun the process of doing so.
According to Singh, they are assessing the damage done to three estates that were closed by the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government, as well as the cost to rehabilitate these estates to make them profitable again.
The Government is also mulling its options, including but not limited to introducing public-private partnerships, agro-industrial and agro-energy opportunities, and pursuing product diversification, and retraining where necessary.
The former Government had closed the Wales Estate in 2016, and subsequently shut down the Enmore, Rose Hall and Skeldon Estates. The downsizing of the sugar industry resulted in only the Uitvlugt, Blairmont and Albion Estates currently operating.
After taking office last year, the PPP/C Government announced in the 2020 Emergency Budget presented in September 2020, that some $5 billion would be injected into the sugar industry for the phased reopening of the closed estates.
An initial $3 billion was earmarked for critical works for the remainder of 2020 while an assessment was simultaneously carried out on the state of the assets and the level of reinvestments needed at the Enmore, Rose Hall and Skeldon estates for their reopening.