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Commodities

First quarter sugar imports fall 54pc on excess supply

Workers offload bags of sugar from a ship at the Port of Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Workers offload bags of sugar from a ship at the Port of Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Sugar imports in the first four months of 2018 dropped 54 per cent compared with the same period last year as traders avoided shipping in the commodity due to excess supply in the market.

Market report by the Sugar Directorate indicates the volume of imported sugar dropped from 133,467 tonnes in the first four months of last year to 61,516 tonnes in the period under review.

The monthly report also indicates that in April, the imported volumes went down to 12,071 tonnes from 25,845 tonnes in a similar period last year.

During the month, table sugar imports totalled 2,402 tonnes while refined white sugar stood at 9,669 tonnes.

The directorate has been regulating the volume of imported sweetener to an average of 7,000 tonnes a month from highs of 29,000.

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Normally, Kenya is allowed to annually source 350,000 tonnes of sugar from Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) free trade area, which is spread across the year to about 30,000 tonnes monthly.

The country imported 981,000 tonnes of sugar between May and December last year as the Treasury opened the duty-free window to allow traders to ship in the commodity outside Comesa to bridge the local deficit.

The directorate said the number of traders seeking import permits had gone down in recent months because of high volume of sugar in the country.

The Treasury scrapped duty on the commodity last year following a sharp decline in production that saw the price go up to Sh400 per two-kilo packet.

Kenya produces about 600,000 tonnes of sugar a year, compared with annual consumption of 870,000 tonnes.

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