As food inflation continues to be driven by sugar scarcity, the Department of Agriculture is considering allowing beverage makers to import 50% of their required high-grade supply.
During the general membership meeting of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Agriculture Undersecretary Mercedita Sombilla also voiced her concern over the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) and its handling of the situation.
“It’s been a challenge for us,” Sombilla remarked about the SRA. “The sugar board controls the importation of sugar… it’s so difficult to get data from the SRA.”
The SRA earlier warned of an impending sugar shortage of 50,000 tons by August. While the SRA board has granted approval for a sugar order allowing the importation of 150,000 tons, including buffer stock, the official issuance of the order is still pending.
During discussions, Sombilla initially mentioned a potential shortage of 150,000 to 200,000 tons but later retracted those figures, citing concurrent shortages in commodities such as corn and pork.
Sombilla highlighted the limited production of high-grade sugar in the Philippines and urgied beverage manufacturers to communicate their sugar requirements to the Department of Agriculture.
On March 22, 2023, six food and beverage manufacturers sought permission from Malacañang to independently import sugar after traders refused to provide them price quotations.
The SRA authorized the importation of 75,000 tons on September 1, 2022, and later approved an additional 440,000 tons in February 2023, which was procured by three traders.