SOUTH AFRICA – Retailer Shoprite Group has partnered with industry body the South African Cane Growers Association (SA Canegrowers) to prioritise sale of locally produced sugar in its 1 189 Shoprite, Checkers, Checkers Hyper and Usave supermarkets in South Africa.

This forms part of SA Canegrowers’ Home Sweet Home campaign, which encourages South African consumers to buy locally produced sugar.

The campaign was launched on December 9, 2020, with the aim of educating consumers about the threats the local industry faces from the influx of cheap sugar imports and to encourage them to buy locally-produced sugar to safeguard rural jobs.

In January, the Shoprite Group rolled out in-store advertising in the sugar aisles of all its stores, encouraging consumers to buy locally produced sugar.

“Given Shoprite’s extensive footprint, the partnership is a significant development for South African canegrowers and the one-million people they support.

“Its involvement will enable the Home Sweet Home message of buying local sugar to reach more consumers and help protect South African jobs and livelihoods,” SA Canegrowers says.

The South African sugar industry has faced serious challenges over the past decade. These challenges include droughts, higher production costs, falling world sugar prices and the introduction of a sugar tax.

A major threat is weak trade protection against increasing sugar imports, which cost the local industry more than R2.2-billion in 2019, the association says.

“These challenges have threatened 21 000 small-scale growers, 65 000 direct jobs, 270 000 indirect jobs and the one-million people the industry supports.

“This is why the Sugar Industry Value Chain Masterplan was developed by government, the sugar industry and other key stakeholders to ensure the long-term sustainability and profitability of the sector,” SA Canegrowers says.

Under the masterplan, retailers have committed to procuring at least 80% locally-produced sugar by the end of the first year of the plan’s implementation. SA Canegrowers is an active participant and fully supportive of the masterplan.

“We welcome the Shoprite Group’s efforts to achieve this target, including partnering with us on our Home Sweet Home campaign.

“We hope to see more retailers and other industry stakeholders follow Shoprite’s example and commitment to helping us secure the future of the industry and its workers,” SA Canegrowers chairperson Andrew Russell says.

Following various initiatives aimed at promoting the consumption of local sugar as implemented under the Sugar Industry Master Plan, South Africa’s sugar consumption is expected to rise by 2 percent to 1.71 million MT in the 2021/22 MY, from 1.67 million MT in the 2020/21 MY.

Meanwhile local production of raw sugar, according to USDA, is expected to fall 7% to 2 million MT during the same period, attributed to reduction in the quantity of cane delivered to the mills, limited crushing capacity due to the closure of two sugar mills, and a decline in mill efficiencies.

Liked this article? Subscribe to Food Business Africa News, our regular email newsletters with the latest news insights from Africa and the World’s food and agro industry. SUBSCRIBE HERE