Illovo Sugar (Malawi) Limited has dismissed rumours that it has hiked sugar prices on grounds that the company is not producing enough sugar to meet the local demand.
The company’s public relations officer Ireen Phalula in a statement made available to Business News on Wednesday said the company is producing enough sugar to ensure that the product is available on the market.
She said Illovo has also commenced the 2017/2018 sugar milling season after completing a factory maintenance programme.
Said Phalula: “The resumption in sugar production means continuity of supplies to the market for all types of sugar to its customers and other interested buyers at factory price.
“The commencement of the 2017/18 sugar milling season also means that there is absolutely no reason for anyone to hoard the product.”
She emphasised that Illovo has not increased the price of sugar and the last price increase was in December last year.
Last month, the country was awash with news circulating on social media that the country could soon experience shortage of sugar on the local market because Illovo was not producing any sugar.
This pushed some unscrupulous traders to hike sugar from the standard K750 retail price of a 500 gramme packet of sugar to between K950 and K1 000 in some shops across the country.
But according to Phalula, there is no need for panic as production of sugar at Dwangwa factory commenced on Wednesday having been delayed last week by heavy rains while production at Nchalo factory is expected to start next week April 26.
She was upbeat that with the new cane growing well at both Nchalo and Dwangwa estates and a planned purchase of over 420 000 tons of sugarcane from around 3 700 smallholder farmers, Illovo anticipates a satisfactory 2017/18 milling season with more than sufficient production of sugar to cater for both domestic and export demand.
Illovo Sugar Malawi is the country’s major supplier of sugar producing around 270 000 tons of sugar annually with over 60 percent sold on the domestic market.
In a separate interview, Consumer Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito said the consumer rights watchdog was surprised with the new prices especially on the informal market where majority of Malawians buy the product from.
“What we are surprised with is that why we, as consumers are buying sugar at those prices despite the fact that Illovo never raised the prices. There is this concern as to where this price is coming from.
“There is indeed a need for a strong warning from producers because this is having an ugly effect on their production because people are now making money out of a product they are not supposed to,” Kapito said. n