Sugar leaders lifted the boycott on Coca-Cola products after the beverage firm yesterday committed to support the Philippine sugar industry and buy six million bags of domestic sugar this crop year.
With this commitment, the impasse between Coke and the sugar industry effectively ends, and the boycott launched against Coke is lifted, Enrique Rojas, president of the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters, and Francis dela Rama, president of the Confederation of Sugar Producers Associations, said.
"Coke reiterated its support for the sugar industry by committing to buy local sugar," Rojas said, adding "Let bygones be bygones. Our relationship with Coke is now back to normal”.
"The sugar industry and Coca-Cola Philippines are looking forward to working together for the mutual benefit of both parties," dela Rama said.
"We have agreed to help each other and we assured Coke officials of stable supply of domestic sugar," he added.
The Coke commitment was relayed by Coke officials in a meeting yesterday afternoon with the sugar industry leaders at the Coca-Cola Philippines main office in Manila.
The Coca-Cola Philippines officials present were Winn Everhart – president and general manager, Ricardo Reis – technical director, and Jonah de Lumen-Pernia – public affairs and communications director.
Sugar industry stakeholders last year declared a boycott of Coca-Cola in protest against the firm’s large importation of high fructose corn syrup used as a substitute for domestic sugar in its products.
The sale of Coke during the MassKara, Panaad and other festivals in Negros Occidental was also banned.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, who met with the Sugar Regulatory Administration Board yesterday, said they have no definitive position on the proposal of the country’s economic managers to import sugar because they need to see their proposed executive order.
Piñol said he will meet with the sugar industry stakeholders on Tuesday.
“We agreed that there will be no importation if there is no sugar shortage,” Sugar Board Member Roland Beltran also said.
“We are closely monitoring the production, demand and prices, among others, and will act accordingly as the need arises,” he added.
The milling season has barely started so it is still premature to state that there will be a shortage, he said, pointing out that 200,000 MT of sugar has just been imported.*CPG
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