This has resulted in some retailers rationing the commodity to three packetsÂ of one kilogrammes to an individual. At the same time, some traders in some localities are selling the packet at as high at K300 (about $1.80) per one kilogramme against the retail price of K220 (about $1.32) in some chain stores such as Shoprite, Peoples and Metro.
The erratic supply of sugar on the market has become more visibleÂ in the past two months with the shortage of brown sugar.
In a normal season, Illovo produces about 300Â 000 tonnes of sugar, 60 percent of which is sold locally and the rest exported to markets in the European Union (EU), USA and the African region, according to the company.
Illovo public relations officer Irene Phalula told Business News on Wednesday that they have information that some traders are exporting their commodity to regional markets where it is also on high demand. She said that is not something which happens every year.
â€œThe main impact is that it [the exports] can lead to deficit in stocks meant for domestic market. However, our survey shows that sugar is generally available in main urban outlets which show that we are managing the situation sufficiently at the moment. We expect the supply situation to be normalised by April when we start our new sugar milling season,â€ she explained.
Phalula, nonetheless, said they always meet the demand of the commodity, prioritising domestic consumers first but argued the demand towards the end of last year was unprecedented.
But when asked if the company has complained to the authorities on the behaviour of some traders exporting the commodity, Phalula said: â€œThe authorities are aware of the situation and we are confident that a solution will be found.â€
But director of trade in the Ministry of Industry and Trade Derby Makwelelo disputed Illovoâ€™s assertions on exports and attributed the shortage of the commodity to the non-function of some of their machines.