Sikhulekelani Moyo, Business Reporter
GIANT sugar producer, Tongaat Hulett Hippo Valley Estate, says domestic sugar production remains low despite increased cane deliveries.
In a trading update for the quarter ended 30 June 2022, the company said cane deliveries from its plantations were 22 percent above the same period last 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.
“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 same period in prior year largely as a consequence of lower cane quality due to a prolonged wet spell that prevailed in the region,” chairman Mr Canaan Dube said.
“Cane quality is, however, expected to improve into the drier peak sucrose period.”
The subdued sugar output comes at a time when the market has recently been experiencing subdued supplies of the commodity, which has seen some established shops running out of stock while several traders in the informal sector have resorted to demanding forex only from consumers. Market analysts, however, accuse some traders of manipulating the situation to create artificial shortages in order to make parallel market exchange rate gains.
“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,” said Mr Dube.
“The price realisations in both local and foreign currency on the local market suffered negatively from the adverse exchange rate dynamics on currency. Management continues to align local prices to changes in cost structures where possible.” – @SikhulekelaniM1.