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Sugar Rush Showdown: Egyptian Merchants Face 10-Day Ultimatum to Sweeten the Deal

In a decisive move that resonates through the bustling markets of Egypt, merchants have received a compelling 10-day ultimatum to recalibrate their sugar prices. The Egyptian government, led by the steadfast Minister of Supply and Internal Trade, Ali Moselhi, has issued this ultimatum with a clear message: adapt or face enforced pricing measures.

Speaking passionately at the third Nebu Gold Expo in Cairo, Minister Moselhi urged merchants to embrace this grace period, emphasizing the government’s commitment to employing advanced regulatory measures if the call goes unanswered.

What’s driving this urgency? The minister assures the nation that Egypt’s strategic sugar reserves are robust, capable of sustaining the country’s demand for up to five and a half months. However, he underlines that flooding the market with sugar isn’t the solution; instead, a collaborative effort from merchants is paramount.

Diving into the numbers, recent research by Statista reveals that Egypt’s domestic sugar consumption has been on a steady rise. For the 2021/2022 sugar marketing year, the country consumed a noteworthy 3.43 million metric tons, marking an increase from the previous year. Looking ahead, projections for 2022/2023 hint at further growth, with an anticipated consumption of 3.49 million metric tons.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) forecasts a 2.4 percent surge in sugar consumption for the 2023/24 market year, reaching an impressive 3.77 million metric tons. This surge is attributed to a combination of population growth (estimated at 2.4 percent per annum) and the expansion of the confectionary food products sector, as highlighted by the USDA.

The recent surge in sugar prices has prompted widespread concerns, with a kilogram of sugar surpassing EGP 39 in the market due to vendor inventory adjustments. In response, the government implemented a three-month ban on sugar exports in March, with a subsequent extension in September, aiming to curtail further price hikes.

Egypt’s proactive measures extend beyond price controls. A robust agricultural strategy, including a land reclamation program targeting 3.5 million feddan, is underway. In the current year, Egypt has successfully cultivated 620,000 feddans of sugar beets, marking an impressive addition of nearly 10,000 feddans compared to the previous year. To incentivize local farmers, earning prices for the current season’s sugar beets were raised by 75 pounds per ton in March.

As Egypt continues to fortify its sugar industry and navigate the challenges of rising demand and pricing fluctuations, the call to action for merchants echoes not just as a directive but as a collective effort towards a sweeter future. The next 10 days hold the key to stability, ensuring that the sugar market remains not just sweet but sustainable for all.

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