THE shortage of sugar on the island has been a source of concern among consumers despite attempts by the Consumers Affairs Association (CAA) to allay their uneasiness.
The CAA noted that poor quality crops and shipping were in some way responsible for the periodic shortages.
Speaking to reporters, on Wednesday, Saint Lucia’s Director of Consumer Affairs Wendy Frederick confirmed that a supply of sugar has been off-loaded to curtail the shortages that were experienced.
“There is sugar on island. We did receive a shipment of sugar last week,” Frederick explained.
However, she said, Saint Lucia did not receive the required quantity due to the suppliers experiencing low crop quality, and did not want to tarnish their reputation by shipping a “poor quality” commodity to their customers.
“Because of the climate change, the suppliers have been experiencing poor crop quality and so when the sugar is produced, the quality of the sugar that we would have wanted would not be a good enough quality,” said Frederick.
“We experienced a low supply of sugar. So, it’s incorrect to say that Saint Lucia can only purchase two containers of sugar a month,” she added.
Frederick said that, next week the island will be receiving about eight containers of sugar, because of the increase in production by manufacturers in the last three weeks.
The consumers affairs spokesperson said Saint Lucia received two containers, last week, with sugar available across the island. However, the stocks had to be equitably managed to meet the needs of a wide range of customers.
In addition, Frederick explained, to mitigate future shortages, Saint Lucia has contracted other suppliers within the region to ensure that we do not experience that kind of shortages and in the future to increase supplies.
She explained that the sugar shortage was a regular experience at this time of year, since the suppliers claim that the quality of the crop is not what it is supposed to be. So she said, “We will prepare in the future to ensure that we contact our suppliers prior to getting this poor quality (crop) response.”
Responding to concerns about the distribution of the commodity, she noted that since sugar is a ‘price-controlled’ commodity, there was no reason for price gouging or hoarding.
“We will be getting sugar,we got sugar last week and we will be getting sugar this week, because we have procured enough to ensure we do not experience a shortage,” Frederick stated.
“Since suppliers have produced more sugar and the quality has improved, we were able to purchase more,” she said.