Sugar imports in the first four months of the year rose 23 per cent compared to a similar period last year despite a slight increase in local production.
According to the Sugar Directorate, imports of the commodity between January and April stood at 184,677 tonnes compared to 150,302 tonnes in similar period the previous year.
The growth in imports came amid a 13 per cent increase in local production attributed to a slight improvement in raw material supply.
All the private mills, except Olepito, registered improved productivity in the review period.
"Sugar imported in January-April 2019 totalled 184,677 tonnes against 150,302 tonnes in the similar period last year, a 23 percent increase, attributed to high table sugar imports in the review period," said the directorate.
According to the regulator, April registered a decline of 14 per cent in imports due to logistics challenges brought about by Covid-19 restrictions put in place to tame the spread of the virus that emerged last December in Wuhan, China.
During the month, table sugar imports stood at 25,509 tonnes while industrial sugar type was at 6,303 tonnes.
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa states supplied Kenya with 22,378 tonnes while East African Community provided 3,080 tonnes while the rest of the world delivered 5,853 tonnes.
The ex-factory sugar price was Sh4,235 at the beginning of the year before increasing to Sh4,295 for a 50-kilo bag in February to end the review period at Sh4,417 in April.
Total sugar sales in the review period were 193,532 tonnes compared with 180,979 tonnes sold in similar period last year, a rise of seven per cent.
Total sugar closing stock held by all the factories at the end of March was 20,031 tonnes against 3,138 tonnes in March last year.
The consumer price of the commodity recently dropped to Sh210 for a two-kilo packet occasioned by an increase of cheap sugar.
A two-kilo packet of branded sugar has now dropped from a high Sh230 in February to a low of Sh210 as the market responds to an increase of cheap sugar.