Food processors push to allow sugar imports

Soaring sugar prices have prompted Mandalay food companies to appeal to the government for help. Myanmar Food Processors’ and Exporters’ Association (Mandalay) has asked the commerce ministry to allow the import of sugar, which has been blocked since the end of April.

As world sugar prices have fallen, local prices have gone in the other direction since Thingyan, rising by 30 percent partly because of demand from China’s Yunnan province, say sugar dealers.

Local prices, having risen to K1230 a viss as of June 7, are at their highest level since 2011 (1 viss equals 1.6kg or 3.6lbs).

World sugar prices have fallen to about $400 a tonne FOB at Yangon harbour, or about $350 in London trading.

“We don’t object to exporting sugar to China. But domestic demand is high. We’ve asked the ministry to resume imports as soon as possible. This is the view of all our members,” U San Win, chair of the association’s Mandalay branch, told The Myanmar Times on June 4.

U Win Htay, deputy chair of the Myanmar Sugar and Sugar Related Products Merchants’ and Manufacturers’ Association, said last week that local production was 400,000 tonnes a year, equal to consumption. A fall in prices would hurt sugar farmers, he said.

Prior to the shutdown of sugar imports in April, major enterprises had already stored up several thousand tonnes.

U Win Htay complained of the impact of speculation on the sugar market, adding, “Yangon dealers started to buy sugar at the end of April. Mandalay farmers produce the sugar, but don’t get the profit. The price difference between Mandalay and Yangon rose very fast, two or three times a day, like the gold price. I’ve never seen this in my 35 years in the trade. Consumers are losing out, and so are our traders, who have to pay much more for our raw material.”

He said there were 50 million consumers and 300,000 cane farmers, all of whom were losing money as a result of this situation.

Source: Myanmar Times

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