KENYA – In a welcome relief for consumers, sugar prices in Kenya experienced a notable drop in August, marking the first decline in two months.

The decrease was attributed to a significant increase in imports, which helped offset the shortfall resulting from a substantial decline in local sugar production.

A survey done in the retail supermarket shelves revealed that sugar prices continued to decrease, with the average price per kilogram settling between Sh210 and Sh220.

Data provided by the Sugar Directorate indicated that retail sugar prices averaged Sh224 per kilogram in August, a reduction from Sh229 in July. Wholesale sugar prices also witnessed a decline, averaging Sh9,624 per 50kg bag in August 2023, down 7% from Sh10,369 per 50kg bag in July.

The drop in prices was attributed to a surge in imports, with shipments more than doubling by 111% to reach 57,250 tonnes in August, compared to 27,179 tonnes in the previous month.

The imports included 47,904 tonnes of table sugar and 9,349 tonnes of white refined sugar.

In August, Kenya extended the duty-free importation of sugar to address the growing demand allowing traders to bring in higher volumes to meet consumer needs.

The surge in sugar prices in Kenya had been largely driven by a combination of factors, including a sharp decrease in local sugar milling and higher global sugar prices. Over the past year, sugar witnessed the fastest rate of price increase among all food commodities.

According to the Sugar Directorate, total sugarcane milled by all sugar factories in Kenya declined by 25% falling from 395,232 tonnes in July to 295,809 tonnes in August 2023.

Consequently, the total sugar production in August 2023 was 27,680 tonnes, marking a 17% drop from the 33,246 tonnes produced in July. The decline was attributed to the temporary closure of mills in western and Nyanza regions due to the unavailability of mature cane.

Meanwhile, the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) has taken strong measures to address cane poaching by sugar millers, which has contributed to the sugar shortage.

AFA Chairman Hon. Cornelly Serem warned millers against cane poaching and stated that the police would be involved to eliminate this practice.

The AFA temporarily closed several mills to ensure cane maturity and normalize milling operations. It also emphasized the need for millers to invest in cane development, with plans for legislation to combat cane poaching and protect investments in the sector.

The chairman assured that measures would be taken to ensure a stable supply of sugar in the country.