With the country well into winter demand for sugar is high in Zimbabwe. So high that for the past three months the only reliable source of sugar has been the black market. Often the price of sugar on this market is in US dollars (around $2.50) or customers are required to pay the prevailing equivalent in bond notes. Those with RTGS have to actually buy cash before they can buy from these sellers who do not accept Ecocash or Swipe.
The Zimbabwe Sugar Association has however explained away the reason for the shortages. Apparently not much sugar was being produced or delivered between March and April. The result has been that sugar prices actually went up even on the black market. In March a 2kg of brown sugar was going for at US$1.60 but currently the price ranges from the common US$2.50 to as high as $3.00 depending on the seller or location.
The Full Statement
ZIMBABWE SUGAR INDUSTRY STATEMENT ON THE SUPPLY OF SUGAR IN THE LOCAL MARKET
The Zimbabwe Sugar Association (ZSA) has received numerous enquiries on the availability of sugar in the local market and has also noted, with serious concern, that some retailers and wholesalers are trading sugar at prices way beyond the recommended levels and in some cases with consumers being made to pay in foreign currency notwithstanding the fact that the industry sells and delivers sugar in Zimbabwe dollars.
It has, therefore, become necessary for the ZSA to advise our valuable customers and interested stakeholders as follows:
1 . Sugar packing and distribution operations were indeed briefly disrupted during the third week of March 2020 and the first week of April 2020 as the Millers and Refiners were implementing, at short notice, robust measures to protect the more than 20 000 employees from the COVID-19 pandemic. This resulted in some delivery backlogs to key wholesalers and retailers right across the country.
2. We are pleased, however, to inform all our valued customers that the sugar industry successfully recalibrated its operations and that all the necessary interventions are in place in order to mitigate Consequently, all backlogs have virtually been cleared and normal deliveries are being scaled up to ensure that all areas across the country are fully serviced with immediate effect.
We are also pleased to advise that the 2020/21 sugar milling season started successfully and on schedule and that the Sugar Mills are currently operating at full capacity, with no major bottlenecks. The sugar industry expects to produce around 455 000 tons of sugar this season, compared to 441 000 tons in the prior season.
We, therefore, call upon all stakeholders to desist from speculative buying activities and implore wholesalers and retailers to continue selling sugar at the recommended prices.
The sugar industry has resolved to monitor the situation on an on-going basis in order to encourage orderly behaviour in the trade.
The sugar industry will suspend supplies to all those wholesalers and retailers identified as being involved in hoarding and/or speculative activities involving our products.
ZIMBABWE SUGAR ASSOCIATION