Kabras Sugar has taken a hit in the ongoing campaign to flush out illicit sweetener with the miller now blaming unscrupulous traders for shipping in contrabands and repackaging them using the company’s brand.
West Kenya Sugar Company, the producer of Kabras brand, on Tuesday distanced itself from blame following the recent crackdown that seized sub-standard sugar on sale packaged in Kabras branded plastic bags, including in Eastleigh, Nairobi.
“As a market leader, West Kenya Sugar Company Limited is often a target of counterfeiters and unscrupulous traders and packers who import and pass off contraband products in our name,” said managing director Tejveer Rai in a statement.
He deflected blame over accusations of illegal importation of sugar and downplayed claims that Kabras brand was not fit for consumption.
Hundreds of bags of sugar have recently been seized in go-downs countrywide, having evaded import taxes.
The seized sugar mainly meant for industrial use, had been destined for sale in retail shops. Tests have confirmed the existence of unsafe sugar, containing insoluble metals such as copper and mercury that has found its way to households and eateries.
Mr Rai said the miller only shipped in brown sugar mid-last year for processing at its factory in Kakamega as a result of a biting shortage of sugar cane. This was due to the 2016 drought that spilt over to last year and cut supply of the raw material.
The depressed cane supply for local sugar production prompted the State to grant companies a four-month duty exemption for sugar imports from May to August 31 to plug deficits.
The miller said it got the licence to import the sugar that was subjected to quality checks and received regulatory approvals. “The bulk brown sugar that we imported is placed in quality-controlled, white woven bags which have an inner water-resistant liner. The bags are marked ‘NOT FOR SALE’’ as that sugar requires further processing to our exacting standards before it is released to the consumer market,” the statement reads.