THE United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines (Unifed) has asked the government to deny the request of beverage companies to directly import sugar for their needs, an official said over the weekend.
In a statement, Unifed President Manual Lamata said he got wind of a request of Coca Cola Beverages Philippines Inc., Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines Inc., ARC Refreshments Corp., Nestlé Philippines Inc., Alaska Milk Corp., and Monde Nissin Corp. to meet with the President to allow industrial users to “directly import premium refined sugar.”
In a letter addressed to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. recently in his capacity as head of the Department of Agriculture, the beverage companies complained about sugar supply, high price and alleged “outright refusal” of traders to “provide price quotes to industrial buyers.”
The letter was signed by Gareth Mc Geown, president and CEO of Coca Cola, Frederick Dy Ong, president and CEO of Pepsi, Jeffrey Yao, director of ARC, Kais Marzouki, chair and CEO of Nestlé, Tarang Gupta, managing director of Alaska and Henry Soesanto, CEO of Monde Nissin.
The letter urged the President to “consider available options that will allow industrials to directly import premium refined sugar to address the shortage and stabilize prices of domestic sugar,” and in order to “prevent future supply crises, we propose that importation be used to create a buffer stock for at least one quarter,” and “prices for imports for sale in the Philippines should be pegged closer to world market price.”
Moreover, Lamata attacked the industrial users saying, “this is sheer greed” from companies that grew their business because of “Filipinos who patronize their products. This lobby to allow them to import directly will affect the more than five million stakeholders of the sugar industry who are ironically their consumers as well.”
“These beverage companies should be buying local sugar because we buy their local products as well and I hope President Marcos will continue to have his heart and protect the farmers from these greedy companies,” he said.
The companies also claim they comprise over 90 percent of industrial users and have concerns to present to the president including sugar scarcity, quality and sugar pricing in the country that allegedly threatens their business operations and the livelihoods of tens of thousands of workers.
Lamata said “these companies have earned billions of revenues from us Filipinos, they can surely protect their workers and their interests for decades to come. However, allowing them to directly import now will not just kill the sugar industry but kill the millions who are dependent on this industry just so they can further enrich themselves at our expense.”