In the midst of the pandemic last year, the sugar industry showed signs of growth. This was said by the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Mr Ebrahim Patel on Friday, at a meeting with farmers, millers, retailers, food producers and trade unions.

The meeting held virtually, provided an update on progress in the implementation of the recently-signed Sugar Master Plan.

The Report indicated a 15% growth in local sugar sales, in an industry that was previously described as facing crisis conditions. The industry saw increases in purchases of sugar from both the retail and industrial sectors, which includes soft-drink manufacturers.

Minister Patel says in spite of these successes, there are challenges that need to be addressed speedily, to ensure the growth of the sugar industry.

“The industry will need to improve its competitiveness and ability to successfully export to new markets, while providing opportunities for small-scale farmers. The partnership with workers can be strengthened further. Work on new markets and industrial applications can provide a long-term growth drive for the sector. In this context, the development of a biofuels industry is now being considered,” Minister Patel said.

He pointed to the recently-concluded agreement with Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa that committed to buy more sugar from small-scale farmers, as an example of what could be done to broaden the base of the sector.

The Master Plan is one of the levers of the re-imagined industrial strategy and is the result of a process of extensive engagement amongst industry stakeholders and social partners, particularly small and large cane growers, millers and refiners, retailers, industrial users of sugar in production of sugar-derived products, as well as workers and government.

Some of the key objectives of the Master Plan are to expand markets for sugar-consumption (including through exports and new industrial uses for sugar), job retention and employment growth, transformation, small scale growers support, crop and value chain diversification, restoring local market and offtake commitment, as well as industry restructuring.

The Minister of Agriculture, Ms Thoko Didiza who is a co-chairperson of the Committee emphasised the need for transformation in this sector.

“In our endeavour to ensure growth, we need to ensure that the sector is inclusive in all critical areas of the value chain. Therefore, we must ensure we open opportunities for more black farmers and women.  Critically, we need to not only open space for women not only the production processes, but in leadership as well,” she said.

As part of the Master Plan, industrial users and retailers have agreed to minimum off-take of sugar for a period of three years; with at least 80% of sugar consumption to come from local sugar industry and increasing to 95% by 2023.During this period, the sugar industry has agreed to price restraint, and to begin a process of managed restructuring for the industry to help diversify revenue source

Other key developments include the gazetting of the Biofuels Regulatory Framework and Feedstock Protocol in 2020, the amendment of the Sugar Act and Regulations, to effect, incorporation of the Small Scale Sugarcane growers in the governance of the South African Sugar Association, gazetting of an exemption to enable coordination by the sugar industry a restructuring to rationalize the industry production.

Data made available at the meeting showed a 25% reduction in deep-sea imports for the twelve months since April 2020.

Sidwell Medupe-Departmental Spokesperson
Tel: (012) 394 1650
Mobile: 079 492 1774
Issued by: The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic)
Follow us on Twitter: @the_dti

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