Wholesale sugar prices have eased by 10 to 12 per cent, fuelling hopes that retail prices will soften within a fortnight.
However, millers in Uttar Pradesh said on Tuesday that “harassing” government raids were hampering operations.
Bulk prices have dipped because demand from large buyers has slowed, along with price-taming measures announced by the Centre last week. However, the relief could be short-lived. As India will have to rely on imports, lower domestic prices amid high international prices could make imports unviable.
“No intervention would work if domestic prices are not in tandem with global prices,” G.S.C. Rao, the executive director of Simbhaoli Sugars, told HT.
In Maharashtra’s Kolhapur market on Tuesday, the comm-on S variety traded for Rs 3,651.9 per 100 kg, an 8 per cent fall from Rs 3,972.3 on January 7.
The Centre allowed millers from UP to process imported raws in other states because of a ban there. This would further ease prices, the UP Millers Association said. The ban was imposed after farmers said imports were curbing their bargaining power with millers.
The millers met Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar over the raids. In the last three days, nearly 40 firms were booked.
UP cane commissioner S.K. Bobde said: “FIRs were lodged against 39 mills for offences ranging from illegal stocks, including molasses, to tax evasion.” The raids were routine and would continue, he said.
Industry sources said the raids were allegedly a witch-hunt to draw attention to the ban on sugar import.
The authorities raided the Brijnathpur subsidiary of Simbhaoli Sugars on Monday and allegedly found more stocks than was on paper.
A spokesperson of Simbhaoli said: “The inspection team miscalculated the stocks, which is duly matching with excise records. No opportunity was given to the unit management to present its case.”