According to the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), the Philippines may run out of sugar as its supply is now at a critical volume due to local missed forecasts and delays in planned imports.
The shortage, which has kept sugar prices elevated for months, adds to inflationary pressures facing the Philippines, with consumer prices rising at the fastest pace in more than three years in May due to high fuel and food costs.
Calculations made by the Department of Agriculture and the SRA showed that the country will run out of refined sugar as early as the last week of July.
Latest estimates made by the SRA indicate that the country’s current raw sugar stocks of 248,195.40 metric tons (MT) will be wiped out by August 4, while the current supply of refined sugar of 109,004.5 MT will be totally consumed by July 29.
The SRA Administrator, Hermenegildo Serafica, said that the country is already eating up its sugar buffer stock. Because of this, the country will not have any carryover stocks of sugar at the start of the next crop year on September 1.
According to Serafica, the shortage in the supply of sugar in the country is caused by the damage from typhoon Odette. The damage to the sugarcane fields due to typhoon Odette was reported at 1.5 billion pesos. This does not include damage to the mills and refineries. SRA has also verified production in mills and refineries after typhoon Odette and continues to monitor and verify on the ground, as the milling season progresses, the quality of canes, tonnage, and sugar recovery.
When SO3 was crafted, the estimated production of raw sugar was 1.982 million metric tons. However, sugar productivity also continues to drop due to the residual effects of typhoon Odette, with continuous rain and overcast skies dampening the growth and sugar content of sugarcane.
Serafica said that one of the options for the government to plug the shortfall in domestic sugar supply is to import since it will take some time to build up stocks from local sources. It is up to the incoming administration of President-elect and incoming Agriculture Secretary Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. of the country to resort to importing more sugar.
It can be recalled that SRA intended to import 200,000 metric tons of standard and bottler’s grade refined sugar from Thailand last February to try and bridge the gap between the depleting sugar supply but was stopped by a local production group who filed a temporary restraining order (TRO).
The TRO petition was filed by the Rural Sugar Planters Association, Inc., a member group of the United Sugar Producers Federation (UNIFED). They claim that the move only benefits industrial bottling companies and will deprive local farmers of the chance to sell sugar in the Philippine market.
Based on SRA data, the average retail price of refined sugar in Metro Manila wet markets as of June 23 soared to a new record high of P83.79 per kg, while its average price in supermarkets reached an all-time high of P74.07 per kg. The average retail price of raw sugar in Metro Manila wet markets is now at P64.50 per kg, while its quotation in supermarkets averaged P60.22 per kg.
For those people who do not believe there’s a sugar shortage, the SRA said that the sugar shortage is real; it is not a figment of the imagination. And those who claim otherwise, either do not have all the information they need to properly analyze the situation; are just trying to manipulate perception to suit their own self-interest and hidden agenda, or refuse to see what is right in front of them because of their own delusions.