Syria Sugar Consumption Falls 40% as War Shuts Down Sweet Shops

Syria’s sugar consumption fell by as much as 40 percent over the past 12 months as the civil war shut down its confectionery shops, T. Akhras Group Chairman Tarif Akhras said today.

Demand for sugar in the Middle Eastern nation fell to 450,000 metric tons to 500,000 tons a year, from 700,000 tons to 750,000 tons a year earlier, Akhras said today in an interview at the Kingsman sugar conference in Dubai. Akhras’s company is based in Homs, Syria.

More than 60,000 people have died in the two-year conflict that pits forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and rebels who seek an end to the 42-year rule of his family, according to the United Nations. Production of foodstuffs including cereals, fruits and vegetables have dropped by as much as 50 percent, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome.

“Consumption dropped dramatically,” Akhras said. “There are fewer confectionery, pastry and sweet shops.”

Syria’s sugar imports will fall 400,000 tons to 650,000 tons in the 2012-13 season, the London-based International Sugar Organization estimates. Refiners in Syria are finding it difficult to import raw sugar because of the sanctions imposed by Western nations on Assad’s government, said Akhras whose group used to own a sugar refinery near Homs.

“There are problems receiving raw sugar, sellers are refraining from supplying,” he said.

The Akhras group may start importing white or refined sugar into Syria to supply the local market, he said. Imports into Syria are made mostly by private companies that supply the government, he said. The country produces sugar from beets, and some of its local factories can be used to refine raw sugar.

Akhras, who previously chaired the Homs Chamber of Commerce, was listed under the European Union’s sanctions against Syria in 2011 for “benefiting from and supporting the regime,” the Council of the European Union said on Dec.1, 2011.

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