In November 2011, the Mauritius Chamber of Agriculture reported a 5% expansion in sugar production (to 410,000 tonnes). This expansion in production is supporting efforts to further increase the production and export of value-added sugars.
At the corporate level, as a result of higher production of refined sugars and the generation of revenues from electricity co-generation, Omnicane, the leading sugar company in Mauritius, has announced an increase in pre-tax profits of 17%. Omnicane is also investing in the wider East African region through its joint venture with the Kenyan group Kwale International Sugar (see Agritrade article ‘ Kenya secures sugar safeguard extension against background of foreign in...’, 20 November 2011).
Mindful of the resilience of EU refined sugar prices relative to raw sugar prices, the Mauritian sugar industry has been successfully pursuing a strategy of investment in moving up the sugar value chain, as well as developing other revenue streams from sugar cane production (e.g. electricity co-generation). The start of this strategy pre-dated the announcement of EU sugar sector reforms, and was based on the EC signalling its intention to reform the sugar sector in the 1999–2000 period.
As part of this restructuring strategy, the Mauritian sugar industry has sought out new corporate partners in Europe, to assist them in packaging and marketing refined sugar products. The experience gained on the EU market is seen as being of considerable value when it comes to the packaging and marketing of refined sugar in both regional markets and international markets, where the growth of sugar consumption is projected to be far stronger than in the EU.
Mauritius’ ultimate aim is to transform itself into a producer of value-added products based on sugar cane. Investment in the development of sugar production in neighbouring East African countries needs to be seen in this light, for it assists in securing supplies of sugar to enable the development of a globally competitive scale of production of value-added sugar products. Mauritius’ experience is of considerable interest for countries considering how to reorient their more traditional sugar industries to take advantage of future market conditions and opportunities.