February 24, 2022
Christine Cudis (Philippine News Agency) | https://bit.ly/3tMJ97C
MANILA – The Philippine Chamber of Food Manufacturers Inc. (PCFMI) has expressed support to the Sugar Regulatory Administration’s (SRA) plan to import 200,000 metric tons (MT) of refined sugar given the local shortage.
“Due to the current local shortage of refined sugar that conforms with the quality requirements of food manufacturers, particularly premium and bottler’s grade refined sugar, we join the SRA in its assessment that there is an urgent need for such importation,” the PCFMI told the Philippine News Agency in an email on Thursday.
Members of PCFMI, also known as PH Food Chamber, have reported that their current stock of refined sugar would be exhausted as early as March.
The PCFMI said that of over 20 raw sugar mills in the country, only seven refineries produce refined sugar. Of this number, only four are able to supply to major food manufacturers.
“These suppliers have informed our members that the destruction to crops caused by Typhoon Odette last December damaged refineries and refined stocks, thus affecting local sugar supply. Also, affected refineries ceased production for a month until power was restored. Moreover, the lack of available containers and the congestion at the ports of Bacolod and Manila have further aggravated the sugar supply situation,” the group added.
Data from the SRA showed that the average price of refined sugar in the first week of February was PHP3,321.50 per 50-kilogram bag, which was 25 percent higher from previous year's price of PHP2,664.50.
The PCFMI said the inability to import refined sugar that meets the quality standards of food manufacturers poses a threat to food security in the country, specifically the continued supply of essential food commodities.
“Existing sugar stocks for food manufacturing are dwindling, and therefore importation under the circumstances is necessary,” it added.
In a report, SRA administrator Hermenegildo Serafica said the importation of sugar is the “best way” to deal with the effects of Typhoon Odette, which destroyed most parts of Visayas and Mindanao in December 2021.
This, after two temporary restraining orders (TROs) obtained by sugar farmers associations in the Visayas have put a hold on the sugar import plan.
Serafica said Sugar Order No. 3, which was supposed to be implemented next month, will ensure that the beverage and confectionery industry will not lack refined sugar supply to manufacture their products.
He said that of the 200,000 MT to be imported, 100,000 MT bottler’s grade refined sugar will be purchased by beverage companies while the other 100,000 MT standard refined sugar by food processors, such as confectionery makers.
“As an agency, we have to look at the bigger picture to balance the domestic supply and make sure that we have adequate supply to ensure food security and thereby, also stabilizing prices,” he added.
However, Reps. Carlos Isagani Zarate, Eufemia Cullamat and Ferdinand Gaite of the Bayan Muna party list filed Monday House Resolution 2495 seeking a probe on SRA's plan to import refined sugar.