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Manila eyes fresh round of sugar imports–DA official

The Philippines is preparing for another round of sugar importation as domestic supply is projected to be depleted by the end of August, according to an official of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Agriculture Undersecretary-designate Kristine Y. Evangelista said the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) is set to meet with sugar industry stakeholders this Friday to discuss the supply situation.

Evangelista said the agenda of the meeting will include the SRA’s proposal for additional sugar imports and the implementation of a suggested retail price for both locally-produced and imported sugar products.

As for the volume of sugar imports that will be purchased, she said it will be discussed during the meeting.

Evangelista said the additional sugar imports would address the needs of industrial users and households.

“We will have to determine the requirements of both the industrial users and the households,” she told reporters in an interview on Wednesday. “Our current sugar supply is very, very thin. It is still not enough, but our direction for the meantime is looking into a [new] sugar order for importation.”

Evangelista said the additional imports must arrive by next month to ensure that the country will have enough sugar supply.

“The imports must arrive before the end of August. As far as timing is concerned, that is our premise to ensure that we will have additional stocks by the time our current supply is depleted.”

Citing latest estimates of the SRA, Evangelista said the country’s current refined sugar supply would be wiped out by end-August.

The SRA earlier projected that refined sugar supply would last until this week while raw sugar would be depleted by the first week of August. (Related story: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2022/06/29/phl-may-run-out-of-sugar-by-august-sra/)

Evangelista said the imported sugar under the importation program authorized by Sugar Order (SO) 3 has started to arrive and has augmented local sugar supply.

SRA data showed 139,075.9 MT out of the total 200,000 MT of imported refined sugar under SO 3 has arrived in the country.

“The remaining sugar supply until August would be entirely for household consumption,” she said.

Evangelista said current sugar prices would remain elevated. “We will see price spikes this August or prices will just remain stable. But it is very unlikely at this point that they will decrease unless we have more supplies then we can bring down the prices.”

“That is why we have to fast-track the [new] sugar order. We are fast-tracking the stakeholders’ engagement so we can move forward as far as the recommendations are concerned.”

Latest SRA data showed the price of refined sugar in Metro Manila markets as of July 15 reached as high as P115 per kilogram. Sugar prices rose above the P100-per-kg price level for the third consecutive week. (Related story: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2022/07/25/price-of-refined-sugar-soarsamid-crippling-supply-woes/)

Sugar industry players earlier urged President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to immediately appoint SRA officials who will implement the necessary measures that will stabilize sugar prices. (Related story: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2022/07/15/pbbm-urged-to-name-sra-board-amid-rising-sugar-prices/)

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