The sugar producing nations on the Central American mainland stretching from Guatemala to Panama have seen an extraordinary development over the last 15 years or so. Low production costs, favourable weather conditions and easy access to the growth markets in Asia and the preferential markets in the US and Europe helped them to grow almost with now interruption up to 2014/15.
However, subsequently the El Nino phenomenon took its toll. Production in 2015/16 dropped by almost 10% and recovered only slowly in the following season.
For 2017/18, a new record is on the cards, mostly because of the return of better weather conditions.
Growth in output over the last two seasons has been minimal and investment in capacity expansion has stalled. The production of sugar is no longer the no-brainer it used to be and the region's leading companies are re-thinking their mid-to-longer term strategies.
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