ZIMBABWE’S sugar industry expects to produce around 455 000 tonnes of the product this season, up 3% compared to the same period last year, Zimbabwe Sugar Association (ZSA) chairperson Muchadeyi Masunda has said.
In a statement following “numerous enquiries” on the availability of sugar on the local market, Masunda assured consumers that the industry had enough stocks to meet demand.
He railed against retailers and wholesalers selling sugar at prices way above the recommended levels and in some cases consumers being made to pay in foreign currency, notwithstanding the fact that the industry sells and delivers sugar in Zimbabwe dollars.
Masunda said sugar packaging 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 across the country.
“We are pleased, however, to inform all our valuable 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,” Masunda said.
“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 prior season.”
Masunda called on all stakeholders to desist from speculative buying and implored wholesalers and retailers to continue selling sugar at the recommended prices.
“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,” he said.