Cane sugar exporters situated in the Commonwealth Caribbean are set to restructure the industry following a massive reduction in production coupled with falling global prices.

The growers currently have preferential access to European markets, but Karl James, chairman of the Sugar Association of the Caribbean (SAC) explained to the Financial Times: “The challenge for the year ahead is to increase production and to reduce costs.”

SAC represents producers in Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Kitts-Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago.

Raw sugar exports for the last crop year, ending July, were posted at 638,017 tonnes, 7% down year on year and contributing to a reduction in earnings. The largest producer, Guyana, has said that it expects a loss for the first time in 11 years.

In Barbados, the government has pledged price support of US$5.27 per tonne and has revealed plans to shift the production focus to high-quality sugar and sugar-based products. Two factories will be closed and all processing confined to a single mill.

In Jamaica, meanwhile, production was recorded at 204,478 tonnes for the last crop year. Plans have been put into place to lift annual production to at least 300,000 tonnes. Production costs must meanwhile be reduced from 30 cents a kilogram to 18 cents.