Sugar imports decline to 7-month low as factories resume crushing


Workers arrange bags of sugar. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Sugar imported into the country dipped to a seven-month low in February on improved output as factories resumed operations after months of shutdown due to a shortage of cane.

According to data from the Sugar Directorate, traders imported 42,381 tonnes of the sweetener last month, recording the lowest quantity since July 2023, when 27,179 tonnes were shipped into the country.

Kenya has found it less necessary to import sugar over the past three months after the government lifted the five-month ban effected to allow cane to mature.

The ban was lifted in December, bringing the local factories back to life.

During the ban, the millers unsuccessfully lobbied to import the commodity, arguing they had established supply networks compared to traders.

They milled 63,075 tonnes of sugar last month, which is the highest local output since January 2023.

“Total sugar produced (bagged) in February 2024 was 63,075 tonnes, four percent up from 60,680 tonnes recorded the previous month,” the directorate said.

Boost to consumers

The reopening of the sugar millers has seen prices of the sweetener come down significantly over the past three months handing a major boost to consumers.

This is especially due to the higher cost of imported sugar whose prices continue to rise.

Data from the directorate shows that landed cost in Mombasa for imported refined sugar averaged Sh121,246 per tonne in February, up from Sh106,658 in the previous month.

According to the directorate, a kilogramme of sugar retailed at an average Sh185 last month, registering a decline of 5.1 percent from Sh195 in January.

Ex-factory price

“The weighted ex-factory sugar price for February 2024 further dropped by 6 percent to Sh6,708 from Sh7,110 per 50kg bag the previous month and Sh8,019/50kg bag in December 2023,” it said.

A spot check at Naivas supermarket showed the retailer was selling the commodity between Sh185 and Sh200 per kilogramme.

At Carrefour, another supermarket, it was retailing between Sh187 and Sh196. It is the lowest retail price of sugar since April last year when it was retailing at an average of Sh160 per kilogramme.

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