Food processors want ‘cheap’ sugar

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    Food processors are seeking at least 105,000 metric tons (MT) of annual sugar import allocation to help bring down their cost of production.

    In a statement, the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture & Food Inc. (PCAFI) member Philippine Food Processors & Exporters Organization (Philfoodex) said they will only have to pay half the price of sugar if they use imports atP28 to P20 per kilogram (kg.) compared with P55 to P60 per kg charged on local sugar.

    The groups said government should consider allowing them to import at least 10 percent of the country’s projected sugar production in order to be more competitive.

    From the 2.1 million MT annual sugar production of the country, 50 percent of domestic consumption is allocated for industrial users, 32 percent for households and the remaining 18 percent by various institutions.

    “We’ll issue a petition to be submitted to (Agriculture) Secretary (William) Dar and President Duterte. We will also propose an implementation mechanism that will ensure this allocation will not go to the retail market but rather help our food producers become competitive,” said Danilo Fausto, PCAFI president.

    Roberto Amores, Philfoodex president, said food processors want to ensure half of their production requirement is secured by lower-priced imports.

    “We’re not talking about even 10 percent of the 2.1 million MT (local production).  We’re not requesting for liberalization. We’re requesting for import allocation for stabilization… for the cause of processors… As a processor, you will submit your requirements based on your production program and sales and you will be given only 50 percent of your requirement (not 100 percent),” Amores said.

    The group said the initial allocation per processor will establish credibility of the industry which must guarantee the imported sugar will solely be used as input for food manufacturing and not for retail to the domestic market in order to not affect sugar farmers’ income.

    Philfoodex also said while the Sugar Regulatory Administration had recently approved sugar importation for 170,000 MT, food processors will not benefit as the volume was designated as reserve sugar.