Sweet festivities turn sour as Malaysia faces possible sugar shortage

Sundry shops noticed restaurants and bigger industry players were buying smaller sugar packets, which are cheaper, in bulk.

Junaid Ibrahim And Gerard Gimino

Junaid Ibrahim And Gerard Gimino

The Star


October 20, 2022

PETALING JAYA – With Deepavali just around the corner, those celebrating fear there could be sugar shortages.

Some families in the Klang Valley said that there were less sugar packets at grocery stores and that the ones that were still there seemed to have less sugar in them.

Housewife A. Latha, 46, said she noticed there was less sugar in the packets she bought from her neighbourhood sundry store.

“Sugar is essential in making traditional Indian sweets or desserts such as laddu, jalebi and halva which are a must-have during our family’s Deepavali celebrations.

“Any shortages would definitely put a damper on this,” she said.

Another housewife, who wanted to be known only as Visithra, 42, said she was also facing a similar problem.

“On my usual trips to the local grocery store, I noticed sugar stocks were growing more scarce, besides there was less amount of sugar in the remaining packets sold there.

“Due to this, I have had to fork out more money to buy even more sugar packets (whenever they are available),” she said.

“Given that I am also currently making Deepavali cookies for both extended family members and close relatives this year, the amount of money spent on sugar alone (for the cookies) has also been quite substantial compared to before,” she said.

Sundry shop operator Mohammad Faiz Yahaya said sugar supplies were few and far between at his store in Shah Alam.

“I am really not sure why this is happening. The supply takes longer to arrive now compared to before.

“Previously, it would take between two and three days for the ordered stock to arrive, but now it can go up to two weeks or more, with customers also complaining about it,” he said.

He also said he had checked with his usual suppliers but was informed that they too were running low.

“The supplier mentioned there were many orders (for sugar) coming in, but they were unable to cope as they did not have stock as well,” he said.

Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) president Mohideen Abdul Kader said some sundry shops in Penang were also experiencing a shortage in sugar supplies.

However, it was for a different reason.

Sundry shops here mentioned how restaurants and bigger industry players were buying the smaller sugar packets, which are cheaper, in bulk.

“The smaller sugar packets are usually purchased by households, and when bigger establishments purchase these stocks, it leaves consumers with a lower supply of items,” he said when contacted.

He also proposed that the government come up with a tiered system, stating that only households could buy the smaller packets, whereas restaurants would have to go for the large ones.

“If industries and big restaurants that heavily rely on sugar continue to purchase the smaller and cheaper packets, a more acute shortage could occur in the near future.

“This may even see the price of sugar going up, with stock hoarding potentially taking place,” he said.

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