American Sugar Refining Eyes African Markets

Written by Dana Sanchez

New York-based American Sugar Refining Inc., which says it’s the world’s largest sugar-cane refiner, sees “enormous potential” for increased production in Africa and is looking for partners there, Bloomberg reports in BusinessWeek.

The Yonkers company wants to enter the African market as the continent grapples with production deficits, said Alan Wood, the company’s head of global commodity trading.

Wood spoke Tuesday on the sidelines of a sugar conference in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa.

“Africa is an area where they can produce sugar, in certain areas, at very low cost” competitive with Brazil and Europe, he told Bloomberg. “With sufficient time and patience, there will be opportunities that we as a group will be interested in pursuing.”

American Sugar has nine refineries in North America and Europe, with an annual refining capacity of more than 6 million tons, according to Wood.

Sugar production in sub-Saharan Africa grew from 7.91 million tons in 2012-2013 to 8.26 million metric tons in the 2013-14 season. Consumption grew 3.8 percent to 10.2 million tons, according to Lindsay Jolly, International Sugar Organization Senior Economist. Imports decreased from 4.8 million tons to 4.71 million tons in the same period, he said.

Production and consumption are each expected to grow by 2 percent over the next three years, Jolly said, according to BusinessWeek.