Santander Sugar Limited has told the Reporter Newspaper that they could have offered Belizeans a better price for refined sugar instead of the price increase that they will now have to bear due to ASR/BSI’s importation of white sugar from the United States.
Chief Executive Officer of Santander Sugar Factory Jose Rodriguez dispelled reports that Santander Sugar Factory does not produce white sugar and, therefore, could not bridge the gap in the supply of white sugar due to local shortage. He clarified that not only does Santander produce white sugar locally, but that he was confident that his mill was capable of bridging that gap, once they were informed of the volume of sugar needed.
"Yes, indeed it is an opportunity for us to supply our product to the local market. We could sell the sugar at a better price than the sugar that they are importing. Certainly, the price would have been better when compared to the price published by BSI for the imported sugar."
Rodriguez also went on to say that, while Santander is not allowed to sell sugar on the local market due to an agreement under the Dean Barrow administration, they were never contacted by anyone in authority to see if a deal could have been hammered out locally instead of resorting to importing sugar from the US at an additional price to Belizeans.
BSI, via a press release, informed the public that effective Wednesday, January 10, 2024, it would commence the sale of imported refined white sugar to its customers. BSI referred to the importation as a temporary measure caused by a surge in unauthorized smuggling of sugar outside of Belize, leading to domestic shortage.
BSI also claimed that the recent delay in the start of the sugar crop contributed even more to that shortage and is also expected to create an even more temporary shortfall in supply for the upcoming weeks.
To ensure that Belizean consumers can have a choice between white and brown sugar, BSI says that they have sought and been granted approval by the Government of Belize to import 250 metric tons of refined white sugar, which is equal to two weeks supply.
"BSI will sell imported refined sugar at an acquisition cost of BZ$1.19 per pound or $59.26 per 50 lb. bag. It is expected the retail price should be between $1.50 and $1.60 per pound depending on the distance from the factory," quoted BSI.
BSI ended by saying that they expect the imported stock to cover the gap until normal supply can be resumed, in the interim brown sugar continues to be available to customers as well.