Philippines plans sugar imports to prevent price spikes

Manila, Philippines: Philippines’ Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) said on Monday that the government is considering allowing the importation of sugar if there’s a shortage, to keep prices stable before the next milling season begins. SRA Administrator Pablo Luis Azcona explained in a remote interview that they’re studying proposals for importing sugar, but it’s not an urgent matter yet.

Azcona mentioned that they’re still figuring out when exactly they might need to import sugar, depending on whether demand stays the same, decreases, or increases. They’ll activate an importation plan if the country’s buffer stock falls below three months’ worth of supply.

If they decide to go ahead with the importation, they plan to get 185,000 to 200,000 metric tons of sugar from abroad between July and September, or before the planting season begins. This is to make sure that sugar farmers’ livelihoods aren’t affected.

Azcona explained that they’re setting this “trigger point” based on historical and actual demand figures and withdrawals, which refers to the amount of sugar taken out of warehouses. It takes about a month to import sugar from countries like Thailand and get it cleared by the Bureau of Customs.

The idea of importing sugar is to prevent a shortage that could lead to unstable prices in the retail market. Azcona recalled a time in 2022 when retail prices spiked, reaching up to P130 per kilogram.

For now, the domestic sugar supply is stable, and farmers are getting better prices at mill sites. At the same time, the retail price of sugar has decreased. According to SRA data, the country currently has 1.1 million metric tons of sugar in stock.


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