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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, April 21, 2017
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Boycott still on;
Coke eyes expansion

Sugar industry leaders yesterday said they are happy with the results of the Senate hearing Tuesday on the call to curb the importation of High Fructose Corn Syrup, but have not called off the boycott on Coca-Cola products yet.

Sugar Alliance of the Philippines spokesman Emilio Yulo III yesterday said they are thankful for the efforts of Senators Cynthia Villar and Juan Miguel Zubiri to help the sugar industry.

“But in the absence of any clear and definite agreement on the proposal to purchase locally grown GMO-free sugar, the boycott on Coke continues and we expect more LGUs, business establishments and NGOs to join the call,” Yulo said.

The sugar industry hadearlier called for a boycott on Coca-Cola products to protest the firm's importation of HFCS.

Coca-Cola, in a statement it issued, called the boycott on its products "misguided."

Coca-Cola's bottling facility in Negros Occidental uses "100-percent locally-sourced" sugar and has earmarked $17 million for expansion, the company said in the statement.

Coca-Cola said the "misunderstanding" over high fructose corn syrup should be settled amicably.

Enrique Rojas, president of the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters, said Villar made it clear to concerned government agencies that they should not brush aside the sugar industry, as it is a well-organized industry and contributes billions annually to the Philippine economy.

“We proved that the industry is not afraid to stand its ground, in the face of any threat to our sugar farmers,” he said.

The focus on the HFCS issue emphasized to the public that their image the sugar industry as big planters is mistaken as it is now composed of thousands of agrarian reform beneficiaries who will be the first casualties if the industry collapses, he added.

“Our concern for our small farmers, and the more than five million Filipinos who depend on the sugar industry, has motivated us to sustain the fight against unregulated HFCS importation,” Rojas said.

“We recognize that beverage makers need HFCS to cut down on their costs, but the percentage of sugar and HFCS use should be more reasonable and should be discussed in a conference where all stakeholders are represented,” he added.

The Sugar Alliance of the Philippines and the Sugar Regulatory Administration have commissioned a study to determine what volume, if ever, should beverage makers be allowed to import HFCS, with the understanding that they will also supply a substantial portion of their sugar requirements, Rojas said.

The results of the study is expected to be out next week, he added.*CPG



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