Nqobile Bhebhe, Senior Business Reporter
LOCAL sugar industry players are engaging the Government over the continued proliferation of cheap imports as saying the move is exerting undue competition on local products.
Cheap low quality sugar is reportedly being smuggled into the country mainly from the region.
In a trading update for the year ended 31 March 2022 and the first quarter ended 30 June 2022, released on Thursday, sugar processor Tongaat Hulett Zimbabwe said the industry is advocating for an even playing field against cheap imports.
“Although local demand for sugar remains strong as industry recovers from the impacts of COVID-19, the sugar industry is engaging authorities to ensure an even competitive playing field against cheap imports of sugar originating from surplus producers who enjoy duty protection in their host countries.”
The sugar processor said it is also an attempt to safeguard the health of the local population as some of the sugar imported is not Vitamin A fortified as required by law.
In its marketing performance for the quarter ended 30 June 2022, the total industry sugar sales into the domestic market for the quarter at 84 228 tons decreased by eight percent compared to the same period prior year largely due to reduced production as well as purchasing power constraints experienced by customers.
Cane deliveries from the Company’s plantations (miller-cum-planter) for the quarter were 22 percent above the same period prior year driven by a combination of increased harvesting targets in line with total crop projections, a more efficient cane haulage system and improved mill uptime.
However, cane deliveries from private farmers were below prior year on account of rains received in April 2022 which resulted in the delayed onset of harvesting.
“Whilst cane deliveries were higher than prior year on account of improved yields for cane harvested, sugar production to date is four percent lower than the same period in prior year largely as a consequence of lower cane quality due to a prolonged wet spell that prevailed in the region. Cane quality is however expected to improve into the drier peak sucrose period.”
Article Source: The Chronicle