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More pain as sugar buyers restricted to two packs only

Consumers are now being forced to buy only two packs of two-kilo sugar from the Nakumatt supermarket on low factory stocks, which have dropped to 28 per cent with major brands vanishing from the shelves.

The Sugar Directorate says the volume of the sweetener held by millers was 5,000 tonnes as at Sunday compared with the last week of March when the stocks stood at 7,000.

It said the stocks have been fluctuating since last month though there is no cause for alarm since it is a normal scenario in the industry.

Head of the directorate Solomon Odera says unstable stocks could also result from the fact that Mumias Sugar Company has closed for three months of maintenance.

“Stocks have been fluctuating since last month but this is a normal occurrence in the industry and there is nothing to worry about given that the prices have remained at the same range,” Mr Odera said on Tuesday.

The factory price of the commodity is still ranging between Sh5,600 and Sh5,900, per tonne maintaining the same trend as last month.

Nakumatt Supermarket Managing Director Atul Shah told the Nation that there has been a shortage of supplies prompting the largest retail chain to ration the commodity.

“We have had supplies problem because of the limited supply in the market and that is why we have restricted what one can buy,” said Mr Shah.

A spot check by the Nation indicates that nearly all supermarkets are just stocking Kabras Sugar with other brands missing.

Mumias has taken a break to undertake a major plant maintenance exercise although it has not been fully utilising its installed capacity due to a serious shortage of sugarcane in the western sugar belt.

A recent status report by sugar directorate indicates that there will be a shortage of 1.9 million tonnes of the raw material in 2016/2017 fiscal year, creating a huge deficit of cane for millers.

It indicates that Mumias had projected sugarcane availability of 917,141 tonnes between July and June 2016.

However, between July and October, the miller had only managed to crush 91,260.

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