Industry group questions sugar shortage claims, urges inspection of warehouses

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 18 2022 12:35 PM

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MANILA – A group of sugar producers in the country is questioning the claims of some businesses that there is a shortage of refined sugar.

Several beverage bottling and manufacturing firms on Tuesday said the industry is facing a shortage of premium refined sugar, a key ingredient in sodas and other sweetened beverages.

United Sugar Producers Federation Manuel Lamata told ANC’s “Rundown” that there is still some supply left from an earlier batch of imports.

“As to the clamor of the bottlers na nakaubos na naman daw, wala na silang sugar for their softdrinks, the importation of 200,000 metric tons of refined which came in June of this year and it’s still coming in, that I think there’s another batch of 20,000 tons left to be coming in the country, 130,000 plus is still in the bodegas. Not withdrawn,” he said.

“So what gives? What’s going on? How come like that?”

He said he believes that the problem is not with the supply of sugar, but the attempt of some parties to overprice it.

“(Department of Trade and Industry) should step up to the plate and inspect all sugar mills or bodegas of the traders,” he said.

“Imagine they buy sugar from us at P45 a kilo and they’re selling it at a P100, P110.”

Former Agriculture Secretary Leandro Montemayor also said he cannot discount the possibility of profiteering as the cause of rising sugar prices.

“When you look at it on its face value, rising prices would be an indicator but not the only indicator of a gap between the demand, in this case for sugar, and the supply, whether actual or projected,” he said.

“Mukhang may windfall gains dito eh. Kasi nga, mababa yung bili ng mga kwan natin, mga mills tsaka traders, ng tubo o asukal, lalong-lalo na sa ating mga sugar planters and producers. Pero anlaki po ng agwat ng buying price for their cane and their raw sugar as against the retail price.”

(It looks like there are windfall gains here. Because sugar is being bought from millers, traders, planters and producers at a low cost. But there is a huge disparity between that and the retail price.)

Montemayor said profiteering—if it is indeed behind rising sugar prices—must be addressed before the country imports more sugar.

“Even if we allow importations to come in, unless we address these windfall gains of excessive profiteering, baka matuloy pa rin yan eh…that has to be carefully addressed.”

--ANC, 18 August 2022