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Commodities

Sugar imports rise 112pc in the wake of low local production

tractor ferries sugarcane
A tractor ferries sugarcane in western Kenya. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Sugar imports in the first five months of the year grew 112 percent compared with the same period last year as shortfall in local production persisted.

According to the Sugar Directorate, imports of the sweetener between January and May stood at 172,213 tonnes compared with 80,596 in 2018.

Sugar production has declined by seven percent in the review period compared with last year following poor performance by Nzoia, Chemelil and Sony factories.

“Overall sugar imports in January – May 2019 totalled 172,213 tonnes against 80,596 tonnes in the same period last year in what is attributed to depressed table sugar imports in 2018,” says the directorate.

Low production locally has impacted on the ex-factory sugar price, which closed at Sh4,632 at the end of May from a low of Sh3,868 at the beginning of the year.

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“The 16 percent increase in May as compared with the previous months is an indication that the sugar market is recovering from a period of depressed prices caused by presence of cheap sugar import.” says the report.

Total sugar sales in the review period were 208,848 tonnes compared with 220,291 tonnes sold in the same period last year, a decline of five percent.

Total sugar closing stock held by all the sugar factories at the end of May 2019 was 9,743 tonnes against 19,000 tonnes in May 2018.

Consumer prices have started going up as depressed local production and expensive imports take their toll.

Most brands that had declined to a low of Sh205 for a two kilo packet in the last two months have now picked up retailing at Sh230 in different retail outlets.

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