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Speculation pushes up sugar prices

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Consumers are being forced to pay more for a packet of sugar following speculative pricing by some traders who have increased the price of brown sugar to between K800 and K900.

Spot checks we conducted in the cities of Lilongwe and Blantyre found that a handful of retail outlets are selling the product at K750 with most pegging a kilogramme of sugar at between K800 and K900.

Illovo Sugar Malawi Limited has since distanced itself from the price hike insisting that the last time sugar prices were reviewed was in December, 2016.

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At the time, retail shops adjusted their prices to sell 1kg of sugar at K650 while hawkers were selling the same at K700 and above.

Illovo Sugar Public Relations Manager, Ireen Phalula, confirmed the speculative trends on the market and attributed the development to erratic supply of brown sugar towards the end of the 2016/2017 sugar milling season.

But Phalula said the 2017/2018 milling season has since started and said the resumption in sugar production means continuity of supplies to the market for all types of sugar to all our customers and other interested buyers at factory price.

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“At the moment, the country has 4,359 tonnes of sugar from the previous season in Illovo warehouses, customer warehouses and in market outlets, which she said is enough for the country.

Looking forward, Phalula said Illovo Malawi anticipates a satisfactory 2017/18 milling season with more than sufficient production of sugar to cater for both domestic and export demands.

Illovo Sugar Malawi is the country’s major supplier of sugar producing around 270,000 tonnes of sugar annually, over 60 percent of which is sold on the domestic market. Although developments in the economy are pointing to a rebound, prices of goods and services remain high.

An investigation which The Daily Times conducted recently found that although inflation has been decelerating in recent months, prices of goods and services have either stagnated or gone up.

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