Hoarding fears as sugar price jumps after ban on imports

Sugar at Carrefour Mega on Uhuru Highway
Sugar at Carrefour Mega on Uhuru Highway, Nairobi. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG 

The retail price of sugar has gone up by between Sh30 and Sh40 in the past one week following a ban on imports, with the Sugar Directorate now opening investigations to ascertain the cause of the supply disruption that has caused the price spike.

Kabras sugar that was retailing at Sh200 for a two-kilo packet for the last one and a half months has shot up to Sh230 while brands packaged by supermarkets such as Naivas sugar, which was selling at Sh100 a kilo now go for Sh118 same qyuantity and Sh235 for a two-kilogramme pack.

The Sugar Directorate said there was an unexpected interruption in the market and that it was investigating to find out exactly what has happened along the value chain leading to a spike in prices.

“There was a sudden interruption (of supply) but we are investigating,” said Rosemary Owino, Interim Head of the Sugar Directorate.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS) Peter Munya two weeks ago banned imports and revoked all the import permits that were current.


Mr Munya said the influx of imports in the country had impacted negatively on sales of local sugar producers, leaving them with huge unsold stocks.

Naivas Supermarket Chief Operating Officer Willy Kimani said they have enough supplies but pointed out that there has been a “supply issue”.

“We have constant supply so far, for the last week the prices have started coming down but indeed there was a supply issue,” said Mr Kimani.

Traders though might have taken advantage of the move by the CS to hoard the commodity and create an artificial shortage given that the imports in the previous months had surged.

This is all the more likely govern that the one week period is also not long enough for the country to run out of supply.

Sugar imports in the first five months of the year rose 21 percent compared with a similar period last year even as local production has in the last two months been recording slight improvement.

Sugar imported in January–May 2020 amounted to 184,677 tonnes against 150,302 tonnes in the same period last year.