Q&A: How a French Sugar Seller Became a Jeweler of Roses

Florence Gervais d’Aldin got hooked on Russia at an early age when the Soviet Navy dropped anchor in Cherbourg, a port in northern France.

Eleven years old at the time, she ignored the initially frosty reception that the Soviet sailors received and experienced the warmth and boisterousness of Russian company, which left a lasting impression.

“In the evening there was singing and dancing, and I experienced the Russian soul,” d’Aldin said in an interview. “I was lost because what I saw was totally warm and — especially when you are young — you cannot be insensitive to this spectacle. From this, I wanted to learn Russian and had the will to go where I was told not to.”

A subsequent high school trip to Moscow, where she used the excuse of preparing for her diploma to skip the teachers’ prearranged tours and explore with a friend, piqued her interest in the still-closed country yet further.

“I was totally shocked. I visited in 1983. There was no advertising, nothing in the shops, and lines everywhere,” she said.

The brief excursion also marked the first time that d’Aldin made money on Russian soil, as Muscovites — amazed by the plastic bags that the teens were carrying — came up to them and bought up the bags with relish.

Sugar Shortage May Turn ‘Acute’ in Third Quarter – Bloomberg


Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) — A global sugar shortage, which drove prices to the highest level in three decades, may peak in the third quarter this year on demand from the U.S., Mexico, India and Pakistan, according to U.S.-based Tropix Capital Management.

(HC&S sold it’s production on forward contracts at low prices.)

Maui Cane Tassels CLICK for larger image.
“As we enter the second quarter, we enter the inter-crop period for South Brazil when export supply is minimal,” Sean Diffley, founder of the hedge fund and former head of sugar trading at ED&F Man Holdings Ltd., said by email. “Countries like Russia will return to the market in force. The acutest part of the deficit may not be apparent until the third quarter.”

India, China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt and Russia are among countries planning to buy sugar to cool domestic prices, worsening a deficit that may reach 11.92 million tons in the year ending April 30, up from 8.32 million tons predicted in October, Kingsman SA said yesterday. The shortfall may be 5 million to 6 million tons this season, according to Tropix.

“The world stocks-to-use ratio should reach 20 year lows in the second half of this year,” said Diffley, who worked for 16 years at ED&F Man, one of the biggest sugar trader.

India, the biggest user, may need to import an extra 2.5 million to 3 million tons this season to meet a 7 million ton deficit, according to Kingsman. Pakistan, Asia’s third-biggest user, plans to purchase 1.25 million tons by June. The country “apparently bought 100,000 tons” from Cargill Inc. in the past few days, Michael McDougall, a Newedge USA senior vice president said yesterday in a report from an industry event in Dubai.

China Drought

China, the biggest consumer after India, may have a deficit of 3.3 million tons this year after drought and cold weather cut yields, the Guangxi Bulk Sugar Exchange Center said last month. Thailand, the second-biggest exporter, may produce 7.2 million tons in the year started in November, less than the forecast.

“There’s a real rationale to be invested in sugar, at least until March,” when the Brazilian harvest begins, Hussein Allidina, head of commodity research at Morgan Stanley, said in an interview in Dubai. Prices will extend gains as a deficit was expected to last through the season ending Sept. 30, he said.