Sugar shortage pushes up prices, consumers worried

Sugar shortage pushes up prices, consumers worried

Despite listed sugar manufacturer Illovo Sugar (Malawi) plc insisting that the product is now available with production up and running, major retail shops continue to ration the commodity, with others highly pricing it.

Spot-checks in some retail shops such as Chipiku Plus in Blantyre showed that they are rationing sugar to five packets per customer at K848 per kilogramme (kg) while other shops such as Spar are selling the same at K1350 per kg.

Sugar is now a scarce commodity

lllovo Sugar has insisted that it is supplying enough sugar on the domestic market.

In an interview yesterday, Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito bemoaned that consumers continue to be subjected to high prices and inconvenienced when buying the commodity.

He said: “Despite assurance from Illovo on normal supply of the commodity, we have seen that most shops have taken advantage of the sugar scarcity to increase prices which is wrong and illegal as sugar has a national regulated price.

“We are appealing to Illovo and the local consumer protection body to carry out market inspections and ensure that their product is sold at approved prices.”

Illovo Sugar (Malawi) plc managing director Lekani Katandula said last week during a visit by Minister of Trade and Industry Mark Katsonga Phiri at the company’s Nchalo Estate and Factory in Chikwawa that sugar prices remain unchanged.

He said they will flood the market with the commodity as the challenges they had between end of April and the start of May are getting less.

Meanwhile, Competition and Fair Trading Commission spokesperson Innocent Helema said in an interview yesterday the commission has noted a number of complaints, especially on social media, on the scarcity and a spike in the price of sugar.

He said: “We are currently conducting an inspection nationwide focusing on the availability and prices of basic commodities and whether anyone is hoarding.

“It is only after the data has been collected and analysed that we will be able to launch investigations against culprits.”

For the past two weeks, sugar has become a scarce commodity on the market due to challenges faced by Illovo’s cane haulage as a result of wet fields at its estate in Nchalo.

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