No need to import sugar despite hike in demand


The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) on Monday said there is no need for the country to import sugar despite increased domestic requirement for the commodity because local production can still meet demand.

With only two to three weeks before milling season comes to a close, SRA Administrator Ma. Regina Bautista-Martin assured the public that there is enough supply of local sugar, noting that current production levels could still cope with withdrawals at the mills.

“Consumption remains strong, but most definitely we don’t see the need for importation,” Martin said.

Domestic sugar consumption, traditionally measured by monitoring sugar withdrawals from the mills, is expected to reach 2.14 million to 2.18 million metric tons (MT) for the crop year ending August 2014, while production is projected to reach 2.356 million to 2.4 million MT.

The agency earlier lowered production targets to 2.356 million MT for the current crop year from 2.45 million MT after super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) devastated several sugar producing areas in the Visayas.

“At present, majority of the operating mills are about 90 percent complete in production. We are confident that we would hit, if not exceed, our target for this crop year,” Martin said.

As of April 27, Philippine sugar production stood at 2,335,877 MT, while sugar withdrawals for the domestic market stood at 1,540,507 MT and world market shipments totaled 126,246 MT.

Martin said the SRA is now in the process of reviewing another reallocation of unshipped sugar stocks to meet local demand.

“We still have about 70,000-100,000 metric tons of unshipped sugar stocks dedicated to the world market. We are now studying when and how to reallocate the volume should we need it in the domestic market,” she added.

It may be the third time this current crop year for the Philippines to reallocate world market sugar to meet domestic requirements.

In March, the SRA further trimmed down sugar exports to markets other than the United States amid rising domestic demand for the commodity in the wake of Yolanda.

From 6 percent, world market sugar will be slashed to just 2 percent of the total production from crop year 2013-2014, while domestic sugar will increase from 92 percent to 96 percent.

But the SRA retained the 2 percent allocation for “A sugar”, or US sugar quota, in line with its commitment to the World Trade Organization.

Martin said that the new reallocation scheme is necessary to prevent the sugar buffer stock from hitting critical levels by the end of the crop year in August.

She also noted that sugarcane farmers continue to enjoy premium prices for their produce, with prices of local sugar pegged at $1,600 per 50-kilogram bag, compared to the $1,200/50-kg bag landed price of imported sugar.


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