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2016/2017 sugar crop deemed a success

The 2016/2017 sugar crop has closed with a record performance. As we have reported before, this crop which only extended five more days than last year to 208 days, saw the industry produce more sugar than has ever been produced before, using far less sugar cane. Vice President for International Relations for the ASR Group, Mac McLachlan told Love News today that they are pleased with the performance.

Mac McLachlan – Vice President, International Relations ASR Group
“We produced more sugar than we ever have done in Belize, 144,000 tons of sugar we ground about 1.29 million tons of cane but produced over 10,000 tons of sugar more than we did with roughly the equivalent or more cane than last year. There were a number of factors that were good, the factory extraction rate was higher than it used to be, the lost time which is an important element of the mill over the last four years we have managed to reduce from around 20% to 10% so that means the mill is running more consistently. Also although the weather was kind to us as well the quality of the cane was good and we had high sucrose levels in the cane for most of the crop so all in all we did well. I think the elements were a little frustrating we had a number of problems in the mill this year, the mill is a big beast it has to grind out cane for the whole six month season so it’s not surprising that there are breakdowns from time to time, the milling rate was not as high as we would have liked but as I said we have eliminated other problems in the business which means that we have now moved this business from what used to produce 80,000 -90,000 tons of sugar to pretty consistent 140,000 tons.

According to McLachlan, by the end of the crop, the mill had ground most of the estimated cane available with only about fifteen thousand tons remaining. Twelve of these, he adds, are cane belonging to BSI. Now, BSI/ASR continues their assessment of the crop but already plans to invest two and a half million dollars into BELCOGEN to improve its consistency.

Mac McLachlan – Vice President, International Relations ASR Group
“We are very very focused on the future of this industry and how to make sure we have a fully sustainable and profitable industry for all industry stakeholders moving forward. What we’ve done since we came here four of five years ago is to put forward strategic investments in place in the mill which have helped to improve the performance of the mill certainly the extraction rates. Some of the figures this year the sucrose cane which the cane farmers deserve credit for that increased from 11.84pol to 12.67 that was a great increase. The pol extraction that is the mill performance improved from 95.92% extraction to 96.16 an overall recovery increased from 84.7% to 86.77% now. All of those things don’t just happen, they happen because there is considerable investment and forethought put into where that investment goes. The name of the game with a sugar mill is to match the most efficient mill you can to the most efficient cane in production and have maximum capacity for that particular mill and that is what we are aiming at in Belize.

McLachlan says that since ASR took over the company, it has invested 50 million Belize dollars in the mill. That investment has yielded results including an increased factory throughout and overall sugar recovery resulting in increased revenue for farmers by 76 million Belize dollars. As is proven from the recent performance, the factory has increased its milling capacity to one point three million tons of cane in an approximate 27-week crop.