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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, January 11, 2017
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with Rolly Espina

What is this about HFCS products?

Rolly EspinaI received a correspondence from Confed regarding the alleged entry of high fructose corn syrup in the country reaching 234,863 metric tons as of September 2016.

On top of that was the reported arrival of some 2,000 containers of HFCS by the end of last year, and that was allegedly just from one industrial user.

I talked to one of the officials of Confed who remain optimistic that newly-appointed head of the Sugar Regulatory Administrator, Atty. Anna Paner, will understand their plight, having come from the millers sector.

The P300 price difference per 50lkg bag of sugar at this time compared to the same period last year is already very alarming and if the big planters are feeling the effects, how much more the small farmers that compose about 90 percent of the industry.

Maybe the effects are not that felt now because we just celebrated the holidays and with bonuses and profit sharing given about that time, people are still within their means to live comfortably. But in a couple of months, a lot of sectors will be reeling from the effects of what I call “greed” from our supposed to be partners in the industrial sector.

Negros Island remains as the biggest provider of sugar supply in the country and on the average, the industry produces 2.3 million metric tons of sugar per year, 60-70 percent of which are utilized by industrial users.

If these businesses will shift to HFCS, the picture is unimaginable as to where the industry will sell their supply.

Negros will be most affected since our economy remains dependent on sugar.

I was told that the Sugar Alliance composed of several sugar federations like Confed, the NFSP, Panay-Fed and Unifed, are coming up with a united stand on the matter and seeking SRA to implement its mandate in protecting the industry.

Another planter also made mention that while they are troubled by the decline in composite price of sugar today compared to last year, they are even ready to bear the brunt of that. What is more worrisome he, said, is the fact that there is barely any movement in the industry because there are hardly any buyers.

Just an example is one industrial user who used to buy 8 million bags of refined sugar for their product annually but in the last crop year, only bought 1.8 million bags.

And here we are talking of just one buyer. If we are not jolted by these figures now, wait and see when the whole picture emerges as to how much stocks are left that have not moved from our warehouses.

If that picture is scary, then perhaps it's time for stakeholders and residents of Negros to make a united stand to solve this problem.

Lastly, allow me to extend my condolences to the Lamata family, especially to Unifed president, Manolet Lamata, for the demise of their father. It is always hard to lose someone dear to us but the Lamata family can take comfort that their father has lived a full life, more fortunate than many of us, for surpassing more than a hundred years.

Our profound sympathy to Manolet and family.*

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