Market News

First-half sugar imports shrink on crackdown

Workers offload sacks of sugar
Workers offload sacks of sugar from a ship onto a truck. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Sugar imports in the first half of the year dropped 58 per cent compared with the same period in 2018 as traders shied away from shipping in the commodity into a flooded market, amid a crackdown on illegal imports.

The Sugar Directorate indicates the volume dropped to 99,144 tonnes in the period from 237,988 between January and June last year.

The monthly report indicates the volumes imported in June went down to 18,548 tonnes from 74,431 in the corresponding period last year. In June, table sugar imports totalled 7,229 tonnes while refined white sugar was 11,319 tonnes.

Head of the Directorate Mr Solomon Odera said the number of people seeking import permits has recently gone down. “The numbers of those seeking permits have gone down but still we have to import because we have an obligation under the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa),” said Mr Odera.

State agencies staged a crackdown on illegal sugar in May with over one million kilos of the contraband confiscated.

The directorate has in the last couple of months been regulating the imports following an influx of the commodity in the country after a duty-free window was opened late last year.

Normally, Kenya is allowed to import 350,000 tonnes of sugar annually from Comesa, which is spread across the year at about 30,000 tonnes monthly.

The country imported 981,00 tonnes of sugar between May and December last year as the window allowed imports outside Comesa to bridge the deficit. The Treasury scrapped duty on the commodity last year following a sharp decline in production that saw the price of sugar go up to Sh400 per two kilo packet.