Sugar Monopoly: Puerto Rico as Stepping Stone?

The Puerto Rico Daily Sun reports that the owner of a company that sells only 15 percent of the sugar sold on the island has complained that the industry is monopolized by Able Sales Co. The scenario brings to mind the intricate dealings underlying the main plot of Rosario Ferré’s Sweet Diamond Dust [translation of the original novella Maldito Amor]. See excerpts with a link to the full article below:

Elliot Giraud, who owns Tropical Worldwide Aspen Natural Products, said Able controls 55 percent of the market in 2008-2009, while Méndez y Co. accounts for 27 percent. “Able Sales monopoly began when our companies took steps to take over the Merceditas Central Refinery and to package and market sugar under the trademark of Snow White,” said Giraud. “The operations at Merceditas would have employed more than 1,000 Puerto Rican workers and offered a better price to consumers.”

Giraud attended a public hearing before the Agriculture Committee, presided over by Sen. Luis Berdiel Rivera to air Senate resolution 616, penned by Senate president Thomas Rivera Schatz. The resolution ordered the Committee to investigate the sale and distribution practices of the sugar industry in Puerto Rico. 

 [. . .] According to Giraud, “the monopoly of Able Sales, and its determination to eliminate any and all competition in the sugar industry were clearly demonstrated at these hearings. Able Sales intends to eliminate lawful competition by making false allegations, and using disloyal and dishonest strategies against our companies.”

The businessman told Berdiel Rivera that the company’s president Luis Silva offered him a business opportunity which he did not accept because it would distribute the sugar packaged by Able Sales so long as Giraud did not import any more sugar to Puerto Rico and the sugar would sell at $9 per 100 pounds.

Later, he proposed to increase the price to $12, but Giraud said, “I was so indignant that I rejected that offer.”  According to Giraud, Able Sales operates a free zone to import and export sugar for industrial use.  Giraud claims it is unnecessary and gives them an unfair advantage because it permits importing sugar in that zone in order to sell sugar in the U.S. He said the end result was to sell the product outside the U.S.

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