AS the 2017 deadline for preferential access to EU markets for Fiji sugar looms, the Fiji Sugar Corporation has been tasked with finding alternate markets and avenues for creating revenue.
One of the biggest challenges for the industry in terms of marketing and selling sugar to international buyers is high shipping costs.
With the removal of preferential access to the EU, the Fiji sugar industry will have to sell its product at the world sugar price of about US17cents (F31cents) per pound as opposed to US24-28cents (F44-52cents) per pound currently enjoyed by African Caribbean Pacific sugar-producing countries.
FSC executive chairman Abdul Khan said plans were being put into place in preparation for 2017.
Several opportunities were being explored and initial studies into selling Fiji sugar to soft drink manufacturers in the region revealed some interesting results.
"We have done the very preliminary research and there is definitely a market for refined sugar," he said.
Mr Khan said in light of this, the Prime Minister and Minister for Sugar Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama requested the corporation to complete upfront work on the establishment of a sugar refinery in the country.
"At present the EU gives us the best opportunity to extract maximum value from our sugar sales.
"As our production increases and should this market shrink, we should be ready to meet the demand of the rest of the world.
"To do this we are working very hard to ensure that our cost of production is competitive especially when our markets could be miles away and freight costs are a significant portion of the cost to market."