Of the many global and regional conferences that are staged in the GCC throughout the year, the Kingsman Dubai Sugar Conference is probably one of the more niche conventions.
That does not diminish its popularity or importance however, as proved last month when around 650 members of the sugar industry from over 45 countries descended on The Grand Hyatt Hotel, Dubai, for the 10th anniversary of the conference.
Co-hosted by Al Khaleej Sugar, this year’s gathering offered an insight on the prospects of some of the BRIC nations as well as an outlook on the global industry and what can be expected in the near future from policies and reforms.
“When the Sugar Conference first started out ten years back myself and Jonathan Kingsman did not know how rapidly this platform would grow, today we are celebrating 10 successful years,” said Jamal Al Ghurair, managing director of Al Khaleej Sugar. Jonathan Kingsman is the director of agriculture at Kingsman, a sugar market specialist.
“Back then the sugar market and commodities trend was very different to what we see today, it is not just evolving, it is a revolution seeing the progress every year.
“The conference not only attracts people to exchange ideas but it is also used as a platform for the participants to work on their budgeting and planning for the year ahead.”
2014 will be the fourth consecutive year global sugar stocks increase, with fundamentals still favouring buyers and a downward price bias. Prices are expected to decrease by a further 10 per cent to a record level during the year.
Al Ghurair explained that in the ever- changing commodities market sugar could be extremely volatile, reacting to anything from the weather to a supplying country’s foreign policies.
“The sugar trade is a risky market and there are many things that influence supply and demand, for example the weather, the consumption, the region’s needs and the economic and currency situation in the supply countries as well as government policies,” he said.
“To manage these risks we keep close relationships with our raw suppliers and our consumers so that we can close the gap in communications too ensure we are on top of our trade.”
Al Khaleej Sugar is the largest sugar refinery in the GCC, refining fine and coarse sugar, distributing approximately 1.5 million tonnes to the international market each year. Its presence in the market gives the region a strong global foothold.
“The region has its importance on the global scale… we export to more than 40 countries. We have the capability to produce more than 7,000 tonnes of refined sugar a day whenever it is needed on demand,” Al Ghurair explained.
“We have been able to build this recognisable infrastructure due to the support and vision of our leaders and the support that we have received from our suppliers and consumers internationally. Therefore we are seen as a reliable international source for refined sugar commodities.”
Despite its fickle nature, the sugar market was relatively quiet in 2013.
Al Ghurair is expecting slightly more activity this year, with production growth forecast for India, Pakistan and Thailand, while Al Khaleej Sugar will be looking at its local markets.
“The sugar market was steady and rather uneventful in 2013. In the meanwhile, the UAE is a steady market in terms of consumption.
“The demand in supply for the Gulf is increasing and we are exporting sugar to our neighbouring emirates and the Gulf.”