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Sugar imports rise by 102pc in first half of 2019

Port of Mombasa
A truck being loaded with imported sugar at Port of Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Sugar imports grew 102 percent in the first half of this year compared with the same period of last year, causing the ex-factory price of the sweetener to fall marginally.

According to the Sugar Directorate, imports of the sweetener between January and June stood at 200,442 tonnes compared with 99,144 in the corresponding period last year.

Sugar production declined by six percent in the review period compared with last year following poor performance by State-owned milling firms.

“Overall sugar imports in January to June 2019 totalled 200,442 tonnes against 99,144 tonnes in the same period last year in what is attributed to depressed table sugar imports in 2018 due to huge stocks of cheap commodity,” says the directorate.

Increased imports have seen the cost of ex-factory drop to close the month of June at Sh4,366 from previous Sh4,662 for a 50-kilo bag.

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“Due to the increasing pressure from cheap sugar imports, the price trend have inverted downwards in June 2019 resulting in a monthly average of Sh4,366 per 50-kilo bag,” the report says.

Total sugar sales in the review period were 241,783 tonnes compared with 247,206 tonnes sold in the same period last year.

Total sugar closing stock held by all the sugar factories at the end of June 2019 was 7,212 tonnes against 19,606 tonnes observed in May 2018.

Consumer prices of sugar had started going up in March this year following depressed local production.

Most brands that had declined to a low of Sh205 for a two-kilo packet in the last two months have now picked up with the same quantity retailing at Sh230 in different retail outlets. The impact of the decline in ex-factory price is yet to be felt by consumers.

In its April report, the Directorate had placed the price of branded sugar such as Khetia, Raha, Economy, Nutrameal, Tumaini, Shivling, Tuskys Sugar, 5 Star, Naivas sugar, Choppies at Sh106 per kilo. Normally, Kenya is allowed to import 350,000 tonnes of sugar annually.

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