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Commodities

Sugar millers seek curbs after imports flood market

Transporting sugar
Transporting sugar in western Kenya. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Sugar processors have asked the government to cut on cheap imports, which they say have depressed the price of the commodity by 20 percent.

The chairman of the Sugarcane Millers Association (Kesma), Jayanti Patel, said the ex-factory price has dropped from Sh5,000 in December to Sh4,000 for a 50-kg bag, with the decline attributed to high volumes of imported sugar.

However, even as millers claim that the ex-factory price of sugar has declined, the same has not reflected on the shelves.

Consumer prices have shot up by Sh30 across major retail shops in Nairobi. A two-kilogramme packet of the sweetener, which retailed at Sh200 in November has now shot to Sh230, marking one of the steepest rises in recent months.

Sugar imports increased by 61 percent in 2019 compared with the previous year with the Sugar Directorate saying that the move was to cover for local deficit amid high demand.

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According to the directorate, the volume of sugar imported in 2019 increased to 458,631 tonnes compared with the same period last year where 284,169 were shipped in.

“We have witnessed a lot of imports in the last couple of months and this has depressed the price at which we are selling our commodity,” said Mr Patel.

According to the Sugar Directorate, the price of sugar in December was 5,142 per 50-kg bag.

Mr Patel said millers might be compelled to lower the price at which they are paying farmers because of low prices of the end product.

He lamented that local stocks were not moving because they cannot compete with cheap imports.

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