Sugar consumption has increased with beverage firms buying more locally produced cane sugar, while importation of High Fructose Corn Syrup has decreased this year.
This was disclosed by Sugar Regulatory Administration chief HermenegildoSerafica and Sugar Board member Roland Beltran in an interview with the DAILY STAR last night.
Despite this, domestic sugar prices have dropped to an average of P1,224per Lkg., so they have been doing their leg work to address this, Serafica said.
Part of their leg work included talking to Coke and Pepsi officials to ask them to increase their use of domestically produced sugar and reduce HFCS importation, he said.
They are also meeting with sugar traders to determine the cause of the drop in sugar prices despite the increase in consumption and drop in HFCS importation, Serafica said.
They willalso meet with sugar planters while they are in Negros, he added.
“We are here for the industry…rest assured we will do everything it takes as far our stakeholders are concerned,”Serafica said.
Sugar Order No.3 that allows the regulation of HFCS remains in place, said Serafica, who alsoassured that the SRA will not be abolished.
Beltran said he does not believe that domestic sugar prices dropped because of HFCS, because the data shows there is less importation of it.
He also pointed out that while they can regulate the HFCSunder SO3 they cannot ban it because it is against the law. He cited the Philippine Competition Act of 2015 that safeguards fair competition and agreements with neighboring countries.
Beltran assured that they have data to show that since SO3 was put in place, importation of HFCS has gone down this year, and consumption of domestic sugar has gone up.
This year 287,15.52 metric tons of HFCS was imported into the country compared to 373,137 last year, Beltran said.
He also pointed out that domestic sugar withdrawal for refined sugar for crop year 2016-2017 was 19,279,663 Lkg bags compared to 17,578,307 in crop year 2015-2016.
The cap for HFCS importation in 2017 is 287,151MT, Beltran said.
Firms can only get clearances for the importation of HFCS if they can show that they are also buying local sugar, Serafica said.
He said Coca-Cola has already purchased 2 million bags of domestically produced sugar this year, and SRA asked the beverage firm to advance purchase another 700,000 bags in 2017 from its 2018 target.
That brings Coca-Cola's purchase of domestic sugar HFCS this year to 2.5 million bags with 200,000 more before the end of the year, he added.
Coca-Cola intended to buy 2.3 million bags of sugar next year but on Serafica's request added another 100,000 bags, for a total of 2.4 million, Beltran said.
Pepsi Cola purchased 1.393 Lkg bags of sugar this year and its commitment for 2018 is 1 .8 million Lkg bags, he added.
He also noted that two sugar mills have recently advanced swapped sugar from B or domestic to D or world market sugar.
Seraficaassured that SRA will remain transparent, participatory and consultative.
Healso stressed the need to look beyond the prices to the need to become more competitive.
Seraficaalso cited the need for farm mechanization with the drop in the number of farm workers.*CPG
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