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Are the sugar talks still testy? ASR shares optimism despite unresolved issues

While today’s announcement for improved logistics for raw sugar and molasses is seen as a crowning achievement for BSI/ASR, there are still unresolved issues between the organization and the cane farmers of the north. Listeners will remember the weeks-long impasse earlier in the year, which temporarily halted production. Mac McLachlan was asked today about the pace of those negotiations. 

Mac McLachlan, Country Manager ASR Group: “I certainly hope not. You know that doesn’t do anybody any favours. It’s unnecessary, it was unnecessary the first time and it would be necessary if we repeated that. There is still a commercial agreement in place. You know we continue the discussion and I’m very very comfortable, confident that the kind of relationship we’ve had with all cane farmers, remember we have commercial agreements in place, long term ones, with three of the four associations. So, I’m very comfortable that these are good agreements. They have withstood the test of time and plus, as I’ve said before, every investment we make, we end up sharing though that value share agreement with the farmers so I think when you look at it objectively, I think that what we have is actually a very very strong foundation for moving forward and I hope, you know, as I said earlier on today, unity is key for us to be able to make the advantages and viability that we need for this industry. If we can do that, we can go anywhere and you know, we have a willing investment partner with ASR group here, which is a huge advantage  and if you look at where we stand against other regional sugar industries, you’ll see what that investment can do and the importance of that investment. So I think we just, we don’t want anything to get in the way of that. I think it would be very unfortunate.”

Even though the negotiations are often uneasy, McLachlan was cautiously optimistic that the state of play will not deteriorate as badly as it had in the past. 

Mac McLachlan, Country Manager ASR Group: “I can’t really comment on that. I mean, I think, you know, it’s very clear what we’re trying to achieve and I think the future is very clear in the sense of what we want to avoid so, you know, I’m hopeful that we will be able to move forward. But, as I say, unity is a big issue. It’s been a very evasive issue for us in the last 10 years, which is unfortunate. But anyway, we’ll continue to do our part.”