Despite major sugar manufacturer Illovo (Malawi) Limited maintaining that the product is readily available, with production from both the factories up and running, major retail shops nationawide continue to ration the commodity.
In other cases, shops such as Peoples, which has retail outlets across the country, do not have sugar.
Spot checks in other retail shops such as Shoprite in Blantyre on Tuesday revealed that they were rationing the sugar at five kilogrammes (kg) and on Wednesday the rationing was reduced to two kg per person.
At the peak of the crisis, The Nation saw a woman trampled at Shoprite in Blantyre as she was scrambling to buy a packet of sugar.
However, Illovo Sugar Malawi has insisted that it has commenced crushing sugar at both its Nchalo and Dwangwa factories, saying all plants and equipment are running very well.
In a statement made available to Business News on Wednesday Illovo public relations officer Ireen Phalula said production from both factories for the month of May alone will be around 45 000 tons of sugar against a demand of approximately 12 000 tons a month.
She said: “Illovo Malawi anticipates a full season production of over 250 000 tons, enough to feed our own 160 000 ton domestic market and allow foreign export also squashing the need for any importation.”
According to Phulala, the current normal anticipated retail price of sugar is K750 per kg contrary to the prices currently prevailing on the market; however, this speculative pricing is outside of Illovo’s control.
Meanwhile Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) and Ministry of Industry Trade and Tourism have queried the company on the shortage, calling for immediate intervention on the matter.
Cama executive director John Kapito said in a statement issued on Wednesday that the consumer rights body is concerned with the scarcity of sugar in the country, which has made traders to hike retail prices to between K950 and K1 000.
Principal Secretary for Ministry of Industry Trade and Tourism Cliff Chiunda in a statement issued on Wednesday gave Illovo a seven-day ultimatum to improve the situation should the company fail to adhere to the given period. n