Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 25) – A group of local sugar producers maintained there is no sugar supply shortage in the country.
United Sugar Producers Federation (UNIFED) president Manuel Lamata said the country has enough sugar supply as he wondered why sugar prices doubled at present.
“Nandito na sa bansa ang asukal, last week pa. Bakit mataas pa rin ang presyo? Mali yung premise niya na walang supply kaya mataas ang presyo,” Lamata told CNN Philippines’ Newsroom Weekend on Saturday.
[Translation: Imported sugar arrived in the country last week. Why is the price still so high? The premise that there’s no supply hence the increased prices is wrong.]
Lamata is referring to Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) Administrator Hermenigildo Serafica, who said there is insufficient sugar supply in the country and enumerated several factors why sugar prices went high.
Serafica cited the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, effects of Typhoon Odette on local sugarcane plantations, and delayed arrival of imported sugar as the reasons for the surging sugar prices.
“It’s not that easy to import sugar. It’s not just that you buy, you order, and it arrives tomorrow,” Serafica said.
Refined sugar is now priced at ₱80-₱90 per kilo in public markets, higher than its suggested retail price of ₱50 per kilo.
UNIFED emphasized the 200,000 metric tons of sugar imported by the SRA early this year were distributed to industrial companies, instead of being given to local traders, as stated in Sugar Order No. 3 issued in February.
Lamata added that all sugar mills in the country are producing sugar since March, an indication there is sufficient sugar supply.
“There’s no way that sugar will be insufficient, the mills are producing many sugar,” said Lamata, who appealed to the next administration to let local traders lead the importation of sugar for easier distribution in markets.
The UNIFED chief noted that the sugar plantations ravaged by Typhoon Odette, particularly in Negros Occidental, can still produce sugar.
“The only affected area is about two to three thousand hectares and those were not wiped out. Once the water subsides, you can still have sugarcane and produce sugar,” said Lamata.
As of June 12, the SRA data shows local raw sugar production went down by over 15% and is now at 35.787 million bags while local refined sugar production decreased by almost two percent and is totaled at 14.298 million bags.