Kabras-based West Kenya Sugar Company extended its market lead in Kenya to nearly a third of the total sales in the country last year, riding on new machinery that has improved productivity.
Data from the Sugar Directorate indicates that the company has grown its market share to 31 percent in the review period from 23 percent in 2018.
The maker of the Kabras brand saw its sales rise to 132,292 tonnes last year, against 108,844 tonnes that was realised in 2018.
Mr Jaswant Rai, the chairman of the Rai Group, which owns the miller, said their production was boosted by timely payments to farmers and investment in new machines that have created efficiency.
“When you pay farmers on time and offer them a good price per tonne, then they will supply enough cane for processing,” said Mr Rai in an interview with the Business Daily.
The miller is paying Sh3,900 per tonne at a time when other processors like Busia Sugar have cut its cost per tonne to Sh3,700.
The miller widened the gap from rival Butali Sugar- that has now sunk third in production with 53,000 tonnes of sugar after being overtaken Transmara and Sukari factories, which came in second and third with 72,000 and 68,67 tonnes respectively.
Private millers led the pack of the best performers with the former market leader, Mumias Sugar Company remaining shut for over a year now.
State-owned Nzoia Sugar Company emerged the best among the five government millers with production of 12,582 tonnes followed by South Nyanza (Sony) at 12,573 tonnes, Muhoroni (10,601 tonnes) and Chemelil (2,863 tonnes).
The sugar sector in the country has suffered from cane shortage, which has led to an increase in imports to cover the deficit.
According to the directorate, the volume of sugar imported in 2019 increased to 458,631 compared with the same period last year where 284,169 were shipped in.
Total sugar production in January — December 2019 was 440,935 tonnes compared with 491,097 tonnes achieved in the same period in 2018.