Imported sugar being withdrawn more from reserves, Sugar Council claims

SUGAR producers said on Tuesday that imported refined sugar has been given priority over domestic sugar in terms of inventory being released onto the market from reserves.

In a statement, the Sugar Council said it received reports of a 16% increase in imported refined sugar withdrawals, while domestically refined sugar releases dropped 7%.

“Since locally refined sugar comes from the local farmers’ raw sugar, demand for raw sugar also dropped over 4%, much to the disadvantage of farmers,” it said.

The group also declared its opposition to the Sugar Regulatory Administration’s (SRA) plan to allow sugar imports during the milling offseason.

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

The council said the reserves include 135,000 MT or 2.7 million bags of imported refined sugar purchased last year, which have not yet been withdrawn.

“These numbers suggest that imported refined sugar is being prioritized over locally refined sugar,” it said.

It added that there should be a calibrated and transparent import program to ensure that domestic sugar is prioritized.

“This validates the call for active consultation with stakeholders, especially sugar farmers groups, to be conducted before any sugar importation order is issued,” it added.

On Tuesday, the Philippine Sugar Millers’ Association, Inc. said that there is no need for sugar imports due to higher domestic production.

Raw sugar production was 1.92 million MT as of May 12, exceeding the 1.799 million MT from a year earlier. Refined sugar output rose to 687,823 MT from 624,389 MT in the previous milling season.

The SRA has set inventories falling to the equivalent of three months’ demand as the trigger point for allowing sugar imports during the milling offseason.

The council is composed of the Confederation of Sugar Producers Associations, Inc., the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters, Inc., and the Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers, Inc. — Adrian H. Halili