Santander Farms, Cayo, Fri. Mar. 18, 2016–Santander Sugar announced this week that it has milled its first batch of sugar at its Belize facility. As we reported last month, the company’s Chief Financial Officer, Andres Ayau, had indicated that the company would commence grinding this month.
Although Santander does not go into full operation until 2017, when it plans to grind 800,000 tons of sugar cane to produce sugar and molasses, mostly for the European market, it does plan to produce on a smaller scale over the coming months. Santander has also said that it intends to supply biomass-based energy to the national grid.
According to Ayau, the company’s current investment is US$150 million, with 60% coming from local and foreign lenders and a third from Belize banks.
In his budget presentation on March 8, 2016, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dean Barrow said that “Sugarcane deliveries are projected to rise by 23.0 percent due to Santander’s output.” However, no indication was given of the earnings that are projected to come from sugar this year. Barrow had reported that in 2015, annual sugar production increased by 25.3% to 151,795 long tons.