Sugar imports in the first quarter of the year rose 86 per cent compared with a similar period last year despite a slight increase in local production.
According to the Sugar Directorate, imports of the commodity between January and March stood at 118,065 tonnes compared with 63,496.
The growth in imports came amid a nine percent increase in local production, attributed to a slight improvement in raw material supply.
“Sugar imported in January–March 2019 totalled 118,065 tonnes against 63,496 tonnes in the same period last year, an 86 per cent increase, attributed to high table sugar imports in the review period,” said the directorate.
Sugar Directorate Solomon Odera said the imports are ordered based on the available stocks.
“The cost of sugar in the country is a good indicator that we use in determining how much sugar we need to allow the traders to import to curb the rising cost of the commodity,” said Mr Odera.
He said as of Friday last week, the country had a stock of 13,000 held by all the millers, which can only last the country seven days.
The ex-factory sugar price was at a monthly average of Sh4,235 at the beginning of the year before increasing to Sh4,295 for a 50-kilo bag in February. Total sugar sales in the review period were 150,574 tonnes compared with 144,145 tonnes sold in the same period last year, a rise of five per cent.
Total sugar closing stock held by all the factories at the end of March was 17,486 tonnes against 8,892 tonnes in March last year.
The consumer price of sugar recently dropped to Sh210 for a two-kilo packet, a relief to the households who are currently grappling with the high cost of living occasioned by Covid-19.
A two-kilo packet of branded sugar has now dropped from a high Sh230 in February to a low of Sh210 for the same quantity as the market responds to an increase of cheap sugar in the market.
According to the directorate, imported sugar was cheaper by Sh58 for a 50-kilo bag than the locally produced ones.