With SO2 shipment due, sugar prices to decline

FILIPINO consumers may soon see retail prices of refined sugar stabilizing in the market as shipments under the 150,000-metric ton (MT) importation program start to arrive as early as next month.

Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) chief David John Thaddeus P. Alba said refined sugar imports under Sugar Order (SO) 2 will start arriving in a month’s time.

Alba said they will soon approve the import allocation of sugar for all eligible and qualified sugar traders and importers under SO 2.

Alba added that the 150,000 MT import volume has been fully subscribed.

“In a month’s time, it’s going to start coming in. We have received a lot of applications already and we are just trying to prorate everything but we have the traders already,” he said in a press conference in Makati on Tuesday.

Last week, the SRA board, chaired by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. as concurrent agriculture secretary, issued SO 2 that greenlighted the importation of 150,000 MT of refined sugar to “ensure” domestic supply and “manage” sugar prices. Marcos signed the document himself together with other members of the SRA board. (Related story: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2022/09/14/pbbm-oks-importation-of-150000-mt-of-sugar/)

Under SO 2, the refined sugar imports must enter the country no later than November 15, so as not to affect local sugar refining operations.

Furthermore, Alba did recognize that Coca-Cola might require “more” premium bottlers’ grade refined sugar than what was approved under SO 2.

However, he pointed out that the 150,000-MT refined sugar import volume was based on historical withdrawals that ranged between 70,000 MT and 80,000 MT every month.

“We cannot really get the right figures. We can only base it on

actual withdrawals. And actual withdrawals historically are 70,000 metric tons to 80,000 metric tons,” Alba said.

“Coke might need more, but for the 2 months that we are not yet refining, they can work with that, they should work with that. By the time we are refining, we would like everybody to buy locally from the refineries, locally produced refined sugar,” he added.

Around 60 percent of the country’s raw sugar production goes to industrial users, including Coca-Cola, Alba said.

Alba said sugar refiners will be in full-blown operations by November, with some already starting to refine raw sugar as early as late October.

Alba said they anticipate the refined sugar retail price to hover between P70 per kilogram and P80 per kilogram once the entire 150,000-MT import volume enters the country.

Alba issued Memorandum Circular (MC) 1 Series of 2022-2023 last week that outlined additional implementation guidelines for the 150,000-MT refined sugar import program under SO 2.

Under the MC1, the SRA will accept applications to import between September 19 and 21, with the issuance of approved allocation per importer scheduled on September 24.

MC 1 also reiterated that the SRA will collect a P33 per 50-kilogram bag clearance fee.

SRA data showed that total raw sugar stock as of September 4 stood at 134,526.22 MT, while refined sugar inventory was at 143,665.05 MT.

SRA data also showed that 115,180.5 MT of the total refined sugar stocks were imported.

Furthermore, SRA data showed that raw sugar output from September 1 to 4 almost doubled to 16,935 MT from 8,567 MT recorded in the same period of last year.

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