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Old 03-10-2008, 11:04 AM   #1
Paulipbartender
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Default Sugar Cane Production

According to sugar production experts Netafim here's a list of the top 15 sugar producing nations in the world;

Country- Area (million ha) - Production (million tons)

Brazil - 5.343 - 386.2
India - 4.608 - 289.6
China - 1.328 - 92.3
Thailand - 0.970 - 64.4
Pakistan - 1.086 - 52.0
Mexico - 0.639 - 45.1
Colombia - 0.435 - 36.6
Australia - 0.423 - 36.0
USA - 0.404 - 31.3
Philippines - 0.385 - 25.8
Indonesia - 0.350 - 25.6
Cuba - 0.654 - 22.9
South Africa - 0.325 - 20.6
Argentina - 0.295 - 19.2
Myanmar - 0.165 - 7.5

My questions is, with only 1 Caribbean nation in the top 15 and with this one compelled to use almost the whole of it's crop for it's own internal use, how many of the Caribbean producers buy in their molasses from one of the above sources and don't acknowledge the fact?

I was more than a little surprised that Myanmar produce more than Guyana, or Martinique for example. Does Barbados buy from India, or Mexico or Colombia?
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Old 03-10-2008, 11:49 AM   #2
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I guess the only way you will know what your getting is in a Rhum Agricole. I have to say, I wish more Islands were producing their own Sugar Cane. It seems most Caribbean Rum Comapny's get their molasses from Central and South America- I guess even Asia. Where is Nicargua and Guatemala on the list? I know Central America produces a fair amount of Sugar Cane.
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Old 03-10-2008, 11:49 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paulipbartender View Post
My questions is, with only 1 Caribbean nation in the top 15 and with this one compelled to use almost the whole of it's crop for it's own internal use, how many of the Caribbean producers buy in their molasses from one of the above sources and don't acknowledge the fact?

I was more than a little surprised that Myanmar produce more than Guyana, or Martinique for example. Does Barbados buy from India, or Mexico or Colombia?
The important thing to notice is that this is sugar production and not rum production. Last year one sugar mill in Nicaragua, for example, produced more than 1 million tons of sugar and all of the molasses used at the distillery owned by the same company. In the last year, bulk sugar production is being shifted to making ethanol which is worth more than bulk sugar.

Next year, bulk sugar exports will decrease while rum production will increase, and all of the rum will be made with molasses from their sugar mill.

For the rum distiller making rum from molasses, there are two important considerations - ash and sulfur. Most Indian molasses has a higher ash content than that from Central and South America and is not the source of choice for Caribbean rum producers.

Barbados distillers import molasses primarily from Central and South America as do other Caribbean distillers. As you can imagine Brazil is a significant exporter of molasses.

On the island of Martinique for example, about half of the sugar cane is grown to make rhum agricole. Sugar cane production is subsidized, to some degree, by the French government. On Martinique there is only one operating sugar mill which produces sugar and molasses which is used to make alcohol for export.

Puerto Rican distillers are importing all of their molasses as are the US Virgin Islands and now Trinidad. To my knowledge, the French are the only islands, besides Jamaica and Cuba where sugar cane is still being grown commercially. Guyana isn't an island and produces sugar, molasses and rum in significant quantities.

The sugar cane information from Netafim is very good, I'd be interested to know more about how the statistics were compiled.
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Old 03-10-2008, 05:57 PM   #4
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For the rum distiller making rum from molasses, there are two important considerations - ash and sulfur. Most Indian molasses has a higher ash content than that from Central and South America and is not the source of choice for Caribbean rum producers.
Maybe a totally stupid question from someone who knows just a little but what role does the sulfur play in rum production? if i don`t ask i will never know..
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Old 03-10-2008, 06:32 PM   #5
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In the Caribbean most of the soil is volcanic which has a significant sulfur content. Is you're ever around an active volcano you might pick up some of the sulfur gas, sulfur dioxide, which has a rotten egg smell.

When you extract crystalline sugar from sugar cane juice you end up with sugar crystals and molasses which contains all of the sulfur from the juice concentrated in it. In molasses-based spirits, if you don't distill the distillate to a high proof and then age or filter it you'll have a spirit with a sharp finish. What you're tasting in the finish is the sulfur compounds which were formed during fermentation and then condensed in the distillate.

Rhum agricole, on the other hand, is made from fresh sugar cane juice which has a much lower sulfur content and doesn't need to be distilled to such a high proof.
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Old 03-10-2008, 06:41 PM   #6
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Thank you Ed! this was some real good education. I love to learn about my favorite spirit and sugar also interest me
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Old 03-10-2008, 10:54 PM   #7
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One big rum company probably buys more molasses than all the others combined. They have plants in Puerto Rico, Mexico and China. Where does all that molasses distilled into rum in Puerto Rico come from? Could well be Brazil. Anyone know?
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Old 03-10-2008, 11:18 PM   #8
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Brazil is only one of the sources. In any well-run company you don't put all of your eggs in one basket, or expect to get all your eggs from the same hens, just as they don't distill all their alcohol in the same country. The last time I counted there were 7 distilleries around the world. but don't ask me to list them.
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Old 03-11-2008, 01:23 AM   #9
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Ed,

I thought that sugar was still grown comercially in Barbados.

Paul,

The reason that Guyana isn't higher up the list of sugar producers is that less than 1% of the land is used for growing sugar cane, while over 80% of Guyana is covered with rain forest.
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Old 03-06-2009, 04:57 PM   #10
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Default sugar cane production

If I remembered well, most of the molasses used in Barbados come from Guyana. Local supply (Barbados) is around 15-20% (Barbados is a small country). The other source is Central America (including Mexico).
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