Fri, Feb 04, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Taisugar plans to reduce production

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Taiwan Sugar Corp (Taisugar, 台糖), the nation's only sugar crusher and refiner, plans to close a mill this year and cut production by 14 percent in the next two years to stanch losses arising from competition from Thailand, Australia and other lower-cost producers.

The state-owned company forecasts output unchanged this year at 70,000 tonnes, falling to 60,000 tonnes by 2007, said company Vice President Huang Jorn-hun (黃哲宏).

"We'll shut one mill this year," Huang said. The company operates three mills and a refinery capable of processing 300,000 tonnes of sugar a year, he said. Taisugar lost NT$380 million (US$12 million) last year from its namesake business.

The company plans to import more than 300,000 tonnes of sugar this year to help meet demand in Taiwan, which totals about 600,000 tonnes a year, Huang said.

The former sugar monopoly will retain two sugar mills to help protect sugar farmers and the company's workers, Huang said.

About 8,000 families are sugar-cane farmers, he said.

Taisugar was the nation's only sugar importer until 2002, when the Taiwan joined the WTO and started to allow private companies to import the commodity.

Taisugar then expanded into a variety of businesses, including orchid planting, retailing and food processing.

The company posted a pretax profit of NT$5.77 billion last year, compared with NT$5 million in 2003, Huang said.

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