Prices of sugar up by 18pc on shortage

Sugar at a Nyeri supermarket. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG

A sugar shortage following the closure of some mills for maintenance has pushed prices up by 18 percent in one week.

The price of a 50 kilogramme bag is now selling at a high of Sh6,400 from Sh5,400 last week, putting more pressure on the households at a time when they are grappling with high cost of other basic commodities.

At the supermarkets, a two kilogramme packet of the commodity is selling at Sh270 in the last two days from a low of Sh239, a price that it has been retailing at for nearly a year.

Benedict Gikunda, a wholesaler who supplies the commodity to Nairobi’s five-star hotels, said the rise in cost is attributed to hoarding by some of the traders as there was no issue with domestic supply at the factories.

“This is a huge jump in just a couple of days, we suspect that there are people who are hoarding the commodity,” said Mr Gikunda.

Nzoia Sugar shut down for two months from June for annual maintenance and is yet to resume operations.

Head of Sugar Directorate Willice Audi said the directorate is yet to get up-to-date figures in regard to the supply of the commodity in the market but said there was no problem with local supplies from the factories.

“For now I may not give a conclusive answer because our field officers are yet to give us the latest numbers. However, I can say that domestic supply is okay,” said Mr Audi.

Kenya cut sugar imports by nearly half in June when compared with the previous month as cane production jumped 11 percent in the review period.

Data from the directorate indicates the imports were slashed by 49 percent to 17,231 in May, down from 33,650 a month earlier.

The regulator says sugarcane production jumped 11 percent to 70,300 tonnes in June, the highest to have been recorded since January.

The factory price for sugar last month eased to Sh5,199 when compared with Sh5,261 recorded in June, highlighting the impact of increased production locally and scaling up of imports in the previous months.

Kenya is allowed to import up to 350,000 tonnes of sugar from the Comesa countries to bridge the annual local deficit.

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