East Africa: Fear of Looming Comesa Imports Cuts Sugar Price

The price of sugar has fallen by up to Sh15 per two-kilogramme packet at leading supermarkets, offering relief to households choking under the Covid-19 stranglehold.

A spot-check by the Nation at Quickmart Supermarket shows that a two-kilogramme packet is retailing at Sh220 down from Sh235 last month, while the one-kilo pack is going for Sh115 from Sh125 in the same period.

At Naivas supermarket, a two kilogramme-packet of the commodity is retailing at Sh214 from Sh231, while the one-kilogramme packet has dropped to Sh111 from Sh116 last month.

Millers have attributed the fall to panic among distributors, who are offering low prices for the 50-kilo bag in anticipation of cheap imports from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) bloc.

Muhoroni Sugar receiver manager Francis Ooko said yesterday that the price for a 50-kilo bag has fallen from Sh4,700 to Sh4,400 with the same reflected at supermarket shelves.

Relief to households

“There’s fear over looming imports, and most distributors are cautious in the quantities they buy from us; they’re offering us low prices,” Mr Ooko said.

The jitters, which have forced millers to sell at low prices lest they remain with huge stocks, offer relief to households reeling from depressed earnings arising from job-losses and salary cuts in the wake of the Covid-19 scourge.

Kenya relies on imports to bridge an annual deficit and stabilise prices because of the poor performance of local millers.

The country imports 350,000 tonnes of sugar from Comesa, a window that has, in the past, been blamed for dumping of the sweetener and distorting prices.

Stiffer regulations

Last year, the Agriculture ministry banned the imports in July, but reversed the decision under stiffer regulations to guard against dumping of the sweetener in the country.

The ministry has since allowed traders to reapply for the permits, but on stiff conditions, namely that they will only be allowed to import what is required as part of the State’s efforts to salvage the ailing sugar sector.

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