HIPPO Valley Estates says sugar cane deliveries fell in the third quarter to December 2022 because of prolonged rains, which hit sugar production over the same period.
“The wet weather in December 2022 also impacted the quality of cane harvested as significant rainfall was received during the month,” the company said in a trading update yesterday.
“Rainfall hinders both the harvesting and hauling of burnt cane to the mills, resulting in the cane remaining in the fields for extended periods and leading to reduced sugar content.”
The company also started an off-crop maintenance programme in December which it expects to complete by April this year.
This would minimise breakdowns and improve mill efficiencies during the crushing period.
“The harvesting season closed with improved cane deliveries from the company’s plantations, with a 13% increase compared to the same period in prior year,” Hippo Valley said.
The company added that the increase was driven by higher yields which rose by 6% to 97,98 tonnes of cane per hectare.
Hippo Valley said private farmer cane deliveries were 2% below prior year levels on account of some 234 hectares of cane being carried over to the 2023/24 season.
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In November last year, one of the company’s two production lines suffered a breakdown, which resulted in its closure for the remainder of the season.
“Repair work is in progress to ensure the line will be operational in the upcoming season.
“In order to crush the remaining cane, the milling season was extended to December 29, 2022 to accommodate the reduced production capacity. In addition, 27 001 tonnes of cane had to be diverted to the Triangle sugar mill for crushing,” the sugar producer said.
The company accounted for 52,26% of total sugar volumes in the country compared to 53,59% in the prior year.
“Industry sugar sales in the domestic market for the same period totalled 278 106 tonnes (2021: 285 548 tonnes), and were 3% below the comparable period in the prior year and the decline arose from increased competition from sugar imports after the government suspended import duty through SI98 on 16 basic commodities including sugar,” the company said.
“Revenue realisations on the local market, in both local and foreign currency, remained firm as most of our customers continued to support local brands against the imports that were available on the local market from May to December 2022.”
Hippo Valley said it had irrigation water cover for approximately two seasons in its supply dams.
“Latest national and regional weather forecasts indicate normal-to-above normal rainfall which will further strengthen the industry’s security of irrigation water,” the company said.
Its sugar production for the upcoming 2023/24 season is forecast to be marginally above levels achieved this season.
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