American Sugar Refining has become the majority shareholder of Belize Sugar Industries (BSI), the chief global supplier of Fair Trade-certified sugar.

In a statement yesterday (4 October), the US sugar refiner said it had acquired a majority stake in BSI, while the company’s previous shareholders, including BSI Employee Holdings, continue to hold the remaining shares.

It was not disclosed what share each company now holds.

“The BSI acquisition presented an opportunity to expand our sugar business by acquiring a majority interest in a key supplier of raw and direct consumption sugars to our refineries,” said Luis Fernandez, co-president of American Sugar. “We plan to invest in the company and utilise our employees’ depth of sugar expertise to expand BSI’s operations and efficiencies in order to increase supplies of raw sugar and value-added Fair Trade and speciality sugars to our operations to meet consumer demand.”

BSI, which produces raw sugar, demerara speciality sugars and white sugar, owns the only sugar mill in Belize. In its last crop it crushed around one million tons of sugar cane and produced 114,000 tons of sugar.

While BSI’s white sugar is sold within the domestic market, around 85% of the company’s total production is exported as raw sugar to the EU and US markets or as demerara to the UK and Canadian markets.

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The company directly employs around 500 people and farms 4,000 acres of cane, all of which qualify for Fair Trade certification.