At the end of last month Zimbabwe’s sugar monopoly, Tongaat Huletts, announced that they were in essence almost doubling the price of sugar. This move was hailed by farmers who pointed out the fact that most of their inputs were in US dollars and so their costs were ever-increasing while the selling price of sugarcane, which is in Zimbabwean dollars, remained the same.
It seems the move has finally paid off. After weeks of silence and empty shelves, most supermarkets we visited today had sugar on their shelves. All the OK shops we visited today had heaps of 2kg sugar packets with one attendant saying there was more in the back. Individuals were being limited to 3 units although the attendant said it was a measure meant to thwart hoarders who go on to resell in USD than a matter of limited supply. Each packet was selling for $127.99 ZWL which is way below the current black market price which had gone up to $3 USD.
The black market prices had gone up to $3 USD
In December last year sugar was selling for around $1.6 USD per 2kg on the black market with downtown tuck-shops selling 20 kg packs for $15 USD. However, when the lockdown began in March the price went up first to $2 USD and then to in April up to $2.50 USD. Traders we spoke to back then blacked clogged supply lines for the hike and said the difference between the old price of $1.60 and the then current prices reflected the risk premium and bribes needed to get the sugar to the market from Southern Zimbabwe.
In recent weeks however as shortages intensified prices went as high as $3.00 as unscrupulous traders on the black market capitalised on the shortages. The price is certain to go down on the black market as more people buy in supermarkets.