STATE-RUN Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) on Monday issued an order regulating the entry of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) into the country, following a strong industry lobby for government to avert a supposed economic disaster from unregulated importation of the alternative sweetener.
In Sugar Order No.3, SRA Administrator Anna Rosario Paner said import release certificates will now be issued to accredited traders and importers to prevent the influx of imported HFCS and chemically pure fructose in whatever intensity or form.
“There has been a reported increase in the volume of sugar imported into the country, particularly HFCS, which is a type of sugar and/or that its importation affects the balance of supply of sugar in the country,” Paner noted in the order.
Various stakeholders have called on the SRA to stop unregulated importation of HFCS, which could potentially displace the use of local sugar and negatively affect the balance of production while threatening the livelihood of sugar industry workers and impeding the growth of the industry.
Sugarcane producers noted that from 2011 to 2016, beverage makers and food processors imported almost 800,000 metric tons of HFCS into the country, displacing the demand for 23 million 50-kilo bags of locally produced sugar and depriving the country, particularly the sugar industry, of P35.2 billion in potential income.
For crop year 2016 to 2017, imported HFCS caused the decline of sugar prices from more than P1,800 per bag to less than P1,500, translating to potential revenue losses of about P20 billion for the current crop year.
Paner said only importers or consignees of imported HFCS, duly-registered with the SRA at the time of the clearance application, will be allowed to import sugar starting next month.
Applicants for the release of imported HFCS and chemically pure fructose must also submit to the SRA regulation department various requirements before the application can be accepted for processing.
The release clearance must indicate the classification of the fructose as either “B” for domestic market, “C” for reserved or and “D” for world market, according to the SRA order.
Those who violate the order face penalties provided under Sugar Order No. 10, series of 2009-2010, as amended by Sugar Order No. 10-A, series of 2009-2010, without prejudice to any other administrative and legal action that SRA may pursue, it said. (See related story ‘Sugar farmers urged to be competitive’ on A7).