Rai family firms grip on sugar sector with new milling factory in Naitiri


West Kenya Sugar chairman Jaswant Singh Rai. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The Rai family has extended its dominance in the sugar sector with the opening of the Naitiri factory, which has now pushed its share of sales to nearly half of the entire production.

Data from the Sugar Directorate indicates that the four milling firms owned by billionaire Rai accounted for 45 percent of the total sugar sales in the 10 months to October, up from 42 percent in the corresponding period last year, boosted by the new entrant.

The directorate says Naitiri accounted for 68,500 tonnes of sugar that were sold in the review period, surpassing some of the long-established millers such as Chemelil, Busia, South Nyanza and Nzoia.

“Cumulative sugar sales from January to October 2022, were 652,376 tonnes, 13 percent up from 575,608 tonnes sold over the same period in 2021,” said the directorate in its monthly bulletin.

The new plant extends Rai’s position as the leading sugar manufacturer from a combined capacity of his existing mills of West Kenya, Olepito and Sukari.

The new player is adding at least 6,000 tonnes of cane per day, moving it closer to the fallen giant — Mumias Sugar Company, which used to have a daily capacity of 8,000 tonnes at its peak.

West Kenya — the makers of Kabras remain a major player in the sugar market and accounted for at least 144,000 of the 652,376 sales that were cumulatively made in the review period.

The Rai sugar plants also accounted for 45 percent of the total sugar that was produced in the country in the 10 months period, which was up by two percent compared with the corresponding period last year.

Between 2019 and last year, West Kenya Sugar Company invested more than Sh1 billion in cane development largely in Nyanza, western and parts of the Rift Valley to create a sustainable supply of cane to its factories.

The Kabras-based miller contracted more than 200,000 farmers spread across nine counties, including Busia, Kakamega, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Kericho, Kisumu, Vihiga and Nandi, giving it the largest sugar catchment in Kenya.

This has given rivals such as Butali and Kibos a difficult time in getting the supply of raw material. These millers have been fighting over sugar cane, accusing one another of raiding their turf.

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