Luzon growers back plan to import more sugar

August 25, 2019
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) |

MANILA, Philippines — Sugar producers in Luzon are backing the government’s move to bring in more sugar amid the continued deficit in  national  production.

The Luzon Federation of Sugarcane Growers Association (LuzonFed) is supporting the Sugar Regulatory Administration’s decision to import 250,000 metric tons of sugar.

“The SRA maintains statutory and discretionary authority to allow imports when local production cannot meet domestic demand,” LuzonFed chairman Cornelio Toreja said.

“Timely and limited importations, only through the SRA, can prevent drastic increases in domestic sugar price levels because of tightness in supply,” he said.

The SRA recently received flak over its move to give in to processors’ request for sugar importation as well as its underutilization of its budget allocated for the industry’s development.

Even agriculture chief William Dar is open to allowing more sugar imports to meet demand as local production is seen to remain low in the next crop year.

Dar said the goal of the administration is to always ensure food security.

The industry warned that next year’s estimated sugar output of two million is even lower than this year’s actual production amid climate change and the recent El Niño.

Given the expected low production, the Philippines will likely lean toward importing more to meet local demand.

The SRA recently allowed the importation of 250,000 MT. This was the second round of importation following the 150,000 MT in October 2018 when the crop year started.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) earlier projected that sugar consumption would increase to 2.3 million MT following a flat 2018 as consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages declined  due to higher taxes.

Domestic food processing and beverage firms, nevertheless, continued to expand as consumers adjusted to higher sugar taxes.