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Hungary refines cane sugar after about a hundred years

From Monday, Hungarians will be able to buy the first cane sugar refined in the country in about a hundred years, Zoltán Széles, director of the Kaposvár sugar refinery, said on Friday.

The Kaposvár sugar refinery, owned by Magyar Cukor, a unit of Austria's Agrana, is the last one operating in Hungary. All of the other refineries were shut down after the 2007 season, when the EU slashed sugar price subsidies and offered farmers and refineries incentives to get out of the business.

With fewer sugar beet farmers to supply the refinery, Magyar Cukor started revamping it to refine sugar cane in April. The refinery recently took its first delivery of 8,000 tons of sugar cane from Brazil and expects to finish refining it by the end of August.

Refining the sugar cane is a "break-even" business for Magyar Cukor, Széles said. The aim is to maintain market share, he added.

The refinery will start its annual sugar beet campaign on September 7, refining 105,000-110,000 tons of sugar from 900,000 tons of sugar beet over 100-110 days.

The refinery meets about one-third of domestic demand for sugar.