No need for sugar imports, millers say

SUGAR millers disputed the need for imports of the sweetener, citing improved domestic production and ample inventories.

Jesus L. Barrera, executive director of the Philippine Sugar Millers’ Association, Inc. (PSMA), said in a statement on Tuesday: “Our increased production has filled our warehouses, so there is no need to import at this time.”

The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) has said it is studying allowing sugar imports during the milling offseason to safeguard against shortages.

According to the SRA, raw sugar production had reached 1.92 million metric tons (MT) as of May 12, exceeding the 1.799 million MT from last year.

Refined sugar output rose to 687,823 MT from 624,389 MT in the previous milling season.

The regulator had projected raw sugar production of 1.85 million MT, with a possible 10-15% decline depending on the severity of El Niño.

“Even with sugar milling already closed for the season, we are confident that our current sugar inventories will last beyond the start of the next crop year, which is estimated to be Oct. 1, 2024,” he added.

The national sugar inventory rose 26% for raw sugar to 531,838 MT, with refined sugar up 35% at 572,398 MT.

“Part of the inventory is the 135,675 tons of imported refined sugar that were brought in last year that remains unwithdrawn and unused,” the PSMA said.

Withdrawals or demand for domestic raw sugar and domestic refined sugar have decreased 4.23% and 7.20%, respectively, while withdrawals of imported refined sugar have risen 16%.

“We will continue monitoring the impact of El Niño on the supply levels in the upcoming 2024-2025 harvest,” Mr. Barrera said.

The SRA has said that El Niño has greatly damaged the cane crop for the October 2024 season.

Batangas, Southern Negros, and Mindanao have reported extensive sugarcane damage due to the dry conditions. — Adrian H. Halili