NATIONAL NEWS - Following a meeting between the South African Cane Growers Association (SACGA) and department of trade and industry (dti) Minister Rob Davies on Friday, the dti has highlighted a need for the local sugar industry to consider diversifying its product offering if it is to remain a viable industry able to create jobs.
The Government News Agency reports that SACGA met with Davies to discuss the impact of imported sugar on the sugar value chain in South Africa in general and on sugar cane growers in particular.
“There is a need for the SA sugar industry to consider diversifying its product offerings and to look at bio-based 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 department.
The local sugar value chain has been impacted by imported sugar products and has suffered a reduction in sales to the beverage sector, which is moving away from sugar.
“Exploratory discussions about finding solutions led to 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. Both the department and the SACGA agreed that there is a need to urgently address the potential threats associated with an increasing replacement of local sugar with imports, particularly with unemployment. The meeting agreed to seek rapid solutions to the challenges facing the sugar industry focusing on short, medium to long-term plans,” added the department.
Meanwhile, it was agreed 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.