Syrian sugar refinery operating at 25 pct capacity -source

The Middle East Sugar Refinery in Syria is operating at 25 percent of capacity as it struggles to finance imports of raw sugar from international trade houses in the midst of the civil conflict, a source close to the refinery said.

The refinery, which has a total capacity of 600,000 tonnes a year, is owned by the Akhras family and partners and is located 50 kms south of Homs. It is one of four sugar refineries in Syria.

“The capacity is low because of a shortage of raw sugar,” the source said on the sidelines of the Kingsman sugar conference, adding that the refinery has struggled to obtain Brazilian supplies as Western sanctions hobble trade finance.

“Some trade houses are reluctant to trade. It’s hard for the time being, but we hope the situation will improve and that the trade houses will have a better appetite to ship raw sugar to Syria,” the source said.

The sanctions do not target food imports directly.

Deliveries of raw sugar to the refinery by truck from Tartous port are at a distance from the fighting, and operations at the port continue, the source said.

The source estimated that sugar consumption in Syria had dropped by some 40 percent since the onset of the crisis.

Before the conflict, Syrians were consuming roughly 800,000-900,000 tonnes of sugar per year.

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