Commodities

Sugar output hits four-year high on bumper harvests

FACTORY

Sugarcane delivery at a local miller. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • The improved sugar output is due to good rains in most sugar cane growing areas, especially in western Kenya, which has boosted cane supplies to millers.
  • A recent Sugar Directorate report showed that sugar has steadily improved this year on higher factory efficiency, especially the private millers.

Sugar production in the nine months to September hit a four-year high, lifted by improved sugarcane supply and improved efficiency in private millers.

Latest Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data shows that 459,972 metric tonnes of sugar were produced between January and September — the highest performance over a similar period since 2016 when output was registered at 493,516 metric tonnes.

Sugar millers produced 336,114 metric tonnes of sugar in the first three quarters of 2019, meaning that the output of sweetener has grown by 37 per cent this year compared to a similar period of last year.

The improved sugar output is due to good rains in most sugar cane growing areas, especially in western Kenya, which has boosted cane supplies to millers.

KNBS data shows that 5.18 million metric tonnes of sugar cane were produced in the first nine months compared to the 3.4 million tonnes last year.

A recent Sugar Directorate report showed that sugar has steadily improved this year on higher factory efficiency, especially the private millers.

“Most of the improvement in sugar production was registered from the private mills with West Kenya and Butali Sugar accounting for 28 per cent and 15 per cent of the total production, respectively,” the Sugar Directorate July data shows.

The data shows that three firms owned by the Rai family-controlled 45 per cent of the local sugar market.

West Kenya had the lion’s share at 29 per cent followed by Sukari Industries at 11 per cent with Olepito coming in at a distant third with two per cent of the total 292,040 sales reported between January and June.

The State-owned mills performed dismally during the review period.

“All the government-owned mills, apart from Chemelil, reported decreased sugar production due to limited cane supply and inefficiencies at the factories,” the regulator’s July data shows.

Mumias and South Nyanza Sugar Companies remained closed during the period under review. Mumias has been closed for nearly two years now.