Sugaronline Editorial - New sheriff in town By Meghan Sapp

Published: 01/30/2017, 10:55:00 AM

The winds of change are blowing in Fiji, thanks to a new executive team.

The winds of change are blowing in Fiji, thanks to a new executive team.


Just as European beet farmers and sugar producers are scrambling to get ready for the end of the quotas this September, those who have traditionally supplied the European market are also trying to sort out how they will evolve into more efficient producers serving a broader global market.

Fiji Sugar Corporation is one of those traditional suppliers who, as opposed to Mauritius who took the bull by the horns to prepare for a post-quota world nearly a decade ago, is still trying to get its house in order. It has certainly tried but it hasn’t been able to “be all it can be.” But things may be about to change.

The FSC brought on Graham Clark as its new CEO last week, a veteran sugar industry leader to whip things into shape in a hurry. The former managing director for Illovo Sugar who then went on to work with Dangote Sugar in Nigeria has emerged as the new sheriff in town. To support him in transitioning the industry to the future is a new COO, a native Fijian with a nearly 20-year history with Coca Cola Amatil throughout the Pacific.

First thing on the dock was to the put all proposed diversification projects from refining to cogeneration on hold until a strategic review of the industry and existing assets could be undertaken. Clark has it clear that it will take some time to understand the particularities of the industry in order to determine the weaknesses that need to be strengthened and the strengths upon which to rebuild the industry, but time is not on his side.

The industry is aiming to produce 3 million tonnes by 2020, a far cry from the 4 million tonnes it produced during its golden age but far better than the 2 million tonnes that has become a source of contention over the past few years. Like Guyana, the industry has shown it can do better, so the new executive team is on board to ensure that becomes the case.

Whether it’s taking a step back and focusing more on agriculture and basic raw sugar processing to improving efficiencies and lowering costs before launching back into diversification plans or potentially shutting down a mill to improve the over all supply chain are questions that need to be answered sooner rather than later. With the Europeans coming back to the fore and the global market shifting in response, Fiji must be stronger to weather the storm and find itself able to stay the course.

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