Sugar imports up 34 percent due to drop in local output

Imports increase to bridge deficit

In Summary

• Imports have increased from 23, 412 tonnes last year to 31,422 tonnes this year.


Sugar stock at a warehouse in Muhoroni Sugar Company
LOW PRODUCTION: Sugar stock at a warehouse in Muhoroni Sugar Company

Kenya's sugar imports have gone up by 34 percent due to low  production

Sugar imports in October rose to 31,422 tonnes compared to 23,412 tonnes imported in the same period last year. 

The October Sugar report released by the Sugar Directorate showed that table sugar imports for the month totaled  15,645 tonnes while refined white sugar was 15,777 tonnes.


“Total sugar imports from the COMESA FTA countries for the month were 12,243 tonnes, COMESA NON FTA gave 1,959 tonnes, while East Africa Community provided 6,929 tonnes (all being from Uganda), whereas the rest of the world countries’ imports were 10,292 tonnes,” reads the report.

Solomon Odera, head of the Sugar Directorate at Agricultural Food Authority said overall, sugar imports in January – October 2019 was 207,617 tonnes of table sugar and 147,860 tonnes of refined white sugar.

This totaled to 355,477 tonnes against 213,496 tonnes in the same period last year, a 67 percent increase.

“The significant increase is attributed to huge imports of table sugar in this year to bridge the rising domestic demand against the declining local production, said Odera.

He said table sugar imports were depressed in 2018 due to high sugar stocks in the market resulting from huge duty-free imports in 2017.

"Moreover, sugar imported under the duty-free window was much cheaper than the COMESA sugar, thus discouraging importation from the regular suppliers,” he said.

The report further indicates that total sugar production in January - October dropped to 371,251 tonnes compared to 411,722 tonnes last year. 

“The continued closure of Mumias, Kwale and Chemelil sugar factories had a huge negative impact on sugar production. Moreover, in the month of October 2019, Nzoia and Butali Sugar Factories were closed for annual maintenance,” he said.

He said currently, the industry is facing inadequate supply of sugarcane for milling, leading to underutilization of the sugar mills and a decline in sugar production. 

The retail sugar prices began the year at a monthly average of Sh112 per kilogram and dropped to a low of Sh107 per kilogram in March this year.

The report stated that due to the increasing wholesale sugar prices, the prices reverted to an upward trend to attain a maximum of Sh116 per kilogram in June.

“In July – October 2019, the prices drifted downwards due to stiff competition caused by supply of low priced sugar at the wholesale level, to finish October at a monthly average price of Sh105 per kilogram,” says the report.