Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies and the South African Cane Growers Association (Sacga) have agreed that increases in sugar imports in South Africa have an unavoidable impact on the competitiveness of the local sugar industry and that certain measures are necessary to restore its sustainability.
“The industry has suffered a massive reduction in sales to the beverage sector as they reformulated away from sugar,” a statement issued by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) over the weekend pointed out.
Davies and Sacga held a meeting last week to discuss the impact of imported sugar on the sugar value chain in South Africa in general and on sugarcane growers in particular.
The industry highlighted the challenges they face and the urgent need to find solutions before the situation deteriorates to becoming an existential threat for the survival of the sugarcane growers.
The meeting’s outcome included the recommendation that the industry, as a whole, needs to propose a long-term vision and industrial plan that takes into account the impact of global developments and the shifting landscape in the sugar industry.
It was agreed that the relevant stakeholders need to meet to consider the various options available.
Both the DTI and Sacga said there was a need to urgently address the potential threats, including rising unemployment, associated with an increasing replacement of local sugar with imports.
The meeting concluded that the tariff support provided to the industry should be complemented by improving the competitiveness of the domestic industry to ensure its long-term continued viability.
“There is a need for the local sugar industry to consider diversifying its product offerings and look at biobased niche product markets in order to increase sustainability, grow the revenue source and contribute as a transformed, competitive and profitable job creating industry,” said the DTI.