Raw sugar output highest in 3 years

May 6, 2024
The Philippine Star | https://qa.philstar.com/business/2024/05/06/2352817/raw-sugar-output-highest-3-years

MANILA, Philippines — Local raw sugar production in the current crop year expanded to 1.86 million metric tons (MT), surpassing the previous crop year’s entire output, due to more sugarcane milled and better sweetener content.

Latest data from the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) showed that raw sugar output in crop year 2023-2024 as of April 14 was 3.6 percent higher than the 1.8 million MT output in the previous crop year.

The latest raw sugar output figure has also exceeded the 1.85 million MT production estimate by the SRA for the current crop year. The current crop year is set to end on Aug. 31.

The SRA, at the start of the current crop year, projected that raw sugar output would hit 1.85 million MT, with an estimated drop from 10 percent to 15 percent due to the El Niño phenomenon.

Historical data showed that raw sugar output in the current crop year is already the highest in three years or since the 2.14 million MT recorded in crop year 2020-2021.

SRA administrator and CEO Pablo Luis Azcona said the administration’s effort to move back the harvest cycle to September from August proved to be effective as it improved local sugar yield.

Nonetheless, Azcona said the SRA would push for the original Oct. 1 start of milling “to further improve sugarcane quality.”

Sugar yield per metric ton of sugarcane milled as of April 14 reached 90 kilograms, slightly higher than last year’s 89 kilograms, based on SRA data.

Azcona said the high prevailing farmgate prices encouraged planters to expand their production, offsetting the loss of sugarcane areas in Batangas.

Data further showed that sugarcane areas in the current crop year reached 387,422 hectares, about 6,606 hectares wider than the 380,816 hectares recorded in the previous crop year.

“We were also lucky that El Niño only hit the tail end of the harvestable cane, and the effect was negated by the increase in planted area,” Azcona said.

Total sugarcane milled as of mid-April reached 20.88 million MT, almost 10 percent over the 19.05 million MT recorded in the same period of last year.

According to Azcona, El Niño affected the growth of sugarcane planted in Batangas, Mindanao and South Negros that are scheduled to be harvested in October.

“We are hoping for the rains to come soon, so that the 2024 to 2025 season will be as good as well,” Azcona added.

Philippine Sugar Millers Association president Terence Uygongco said the higher raw sugar production “helps allay’’ the “uncertainties” in the country’s sugar supply.

Reacting to President Marcos’ Administrative Order (AO) 20, Uygongco reiterated PSMA’s position that only the deficiency in domestic sugar supply should be imported if the government decides to allow importation.

“All we ask is that the volume to be imported is the deficiency in production including buffer stocks for contingencies and scheduled arrival of imports so as not to coincide with sugar milling,” Uygongco said.

The PSMA expects a “more predictable, simplified, transparent and need-based” import programs with AO 20 in place.

However, Uygongco said the import programs should still be subjected to concerned laws and regulations, including SRA’s mandate of balancing the welfare of both producers and consumers.