SOME parts of the country such as the capital, Harare, are experiencing shortages of sugar supplies at retail shops with the informal sector struggling to restock.
A snap survey by NewsDay yesterday confirmed that sugar was in short supply at most shelves, including at smaller retailers in Harare.
Retailers that spoke to NewsDay claimed that this was due to supply bottlenecks at sugar manufacturer Hippo Valley Estates (Hippo).
The retailers were demanding customers buy goods worth US$100 to make them eligible to buy sugar while others simply demanded a dollar or more for each pack of 10 units on top of the marked price.
Tongaat Hulett chief executive Aiden Mhere, however, quickly dispelled such claims saying his company was adequately stocked, while production is going on smoothly.
Mhere said there was enough sugar on the market, with some of it being exported.
“I am on leave for a week now, but I can assure you that there are no supply bottlenecks whatsoever. We have no problem on our end other than that the possibility that some players, particularly the smaller ones, are unable to pay for deliveries, and we can’t continue to supply people who are not paying,” Mhere told NewsDay.
“There are no supply bottlenecks that I know for sure and you can even contact my colleagues from the office.”
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Hippo Valley chief operating officer Sylvester Mangani said the company had huge stocks of sugar and was able to meet demand.
However, he said there were some players that were unable to restock.
“Remember there was an influx of imports after duty on basics was lifted. Now that we are back to normal, some players can’t afford to re-stock. Informal retailers pay cash upfront and are, therefore, likely experiencing cashflow challenges,” Mangani said.
In its latest annual report for 2022, Hippo Valley said although local demand for sugar remained strong as industry recovered from the impacts of COVID-19, the sugar industry was 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 Zimbabwe Sugar Industry has a single marketing desk administered by Zimbabwe Sugar Sales (Private) Limited.
The company’s share of total industry sugar sales volumes of 394 000 tonnes for the year ended March 31, 2022 was 53,2%.
Total industry sugar sales into the domestic market for the year at 356 000 tonnes were 10% higher than the previous year, driven by strong domestic demand.
Industry export sales, however, decreased by 67% to 38 000 tonnes following redirection of supply to the local market in view of the increased demand.