Sugar millers are targeting to produce over 450 000 tonnes of the product in the 2020/2021 season, slightly more than what they produced in the previous season, the Zimbabwe Sugar Association (ZSA) has said.
The announcement comes at a time when there has been an artificial shortage of sugar in the formal market during the early days of lockdown, with some retailers selling the product at very high prices while the informal sector has been selling it in foreign currency.
“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,” said ZSA in a statement.
“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.”
ZSA said the sugar industry had since resolved to monitor the situation on an on-going basis to encourage orderly behaviour in the trade of the commodity.
“The Zimbabwe Sugar Association 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 although the industry sells and delivers sugar in Zimbabwe dollars,” bemoaned the association.
“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.”
ZSA added: “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. 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.”