Mumias sugar brand is back on the shelves after nearly a decade since the giant miller stopped processing, with the company playing catch up with rivals that gobbled up its market share in the years when it was dormant.
Mumias Sugar Company has a capacity to process 8,000 tonnes of sugarcane a day and a cane-growing nucleus of 4,000 hectares, the largest in the country.
The brand’s return to the market comes at a time when there is an inadequate supply of the commodity that players have partly addressed through expensive imports.
Mumias’ sweetener has been retailing in all the leading supermarkets in Nairobi since mid-last month when it was first stocked with a two-kilogramme packet fetching Sh289 when compared with other brands that retail at Sh312.
“The sugar is being received well, so far so good,” said Naivas chief operating officer Wily Kimani.
Milling of the sweetener also comes as a boost to growers who sell their produce to the company.
Two of the Rai brothers ---Jaswant Rai of Kabras Sugar and Sarbi Singh Rai of the Sarrai Group-- are now battling for a share of the sugar market after the latter was awarded the lease to revive Mumias.
Sarbi Singh Rai is one of the five sons of Tarlochan Singh Rai who died in December 2010, but they fell out over the distribution of the wealth left by the patriarch, forcing him to move out of the Rai Group whose chairman is Jaswant.
Mumias was in September 2019 placed under receivership by KCB Group to protect its assets and maintain its operations.
The lender has been barred from auctioning the plant to secure assets used as security for other loans, prompting it to turn to the lease option.
Mumias owes Proparco Sh1.84 billion secured using the electricity generation plant, Ecobank Sh1.77 billion on the ethanol plant, and the Treasury Sh2.83 billion.
Other banks it owes more than Sh3 billion include KCB, NCBA and Stanbic Bank.