Sugar imports in the first quarter of the year rose 130 percent compared with the similar period last year against the backdrop of a decline in local production.
According to the Sugar Directorate, imports of the sweetener between January and March stood at 113,516 tonnes compared with 49,445 in the corresponding period last year.
The increase in imports came amidst a 14 percent decline in local production.
“Sugar imported in January–March 2019 totalled 113,516 tonnes against 49,445 tonnes in the same period last year, a 130 percent increase, attributed to low table sugar imports in 2018 due to huge stocks of cheap duty-free sugar in 2017,” said the directorate.
The ex-factory sugar price was at a monthly average of Sh4,082 at the beginning of the year before dropping to Sh3,868 for a 50-kilo bag in February. However, in March the prices increased to Sh3,912.
“The slight improvement witnessed in March 2019 is an indicator that the ex-factory sugar prices downward trend has reversed.
“However, the upward trend will largely depend on sugar imports and pricing,” reads the report.
Total sugar sales in the review period were 142,717 tonnes compared with 151,869 tonnes sold in the same period last year, a decline of six percent.
Total sugar closing stock held by all the factories at the end of March was 7,021 tonnes against 20,770 tonnes in March last year.
The consumer price of sugar has so far dropped by 11 percent, coming as a relief to the households who are currently grappling with the high cost of living that saw inflation shoot to a two-month high in March.
A two-kilogramme packet of branded sugar has now dropped from a high Sh230 last month to a low of Sh205 for the same quantity as the market responds to an increase of cheap sugar in the market.
The decline in price is also attributed to the release of sugar that the government had confiscated during the crackdown on illegal sweetener last year.