RAW sugar prices have dropped in Negros Occidental due to suspected market manipulation, the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) said.
SRA Administrator Pablo Luis S. Azcona said in a statement that “local trading in Negros Occidental last week dropped to a low of P2,550 to P2,700 (per ton) with only two mills reporting trading at P3,000 at least.”
He said that since February, prices have consistently come in at “a comfortable level” of P3,000, equivalent to P60 per kilogram at millgate for raw sugar and P85 per kilo for the Metro Manila refined retail price.
“We have been pushing for P3,000 as I feel it is the fair market price and this has been echoed by the administration. (Such a price serves as) an incentive for farmers to plant more and be more sustainable,” Mr. Azcona added.
He said that the regulator is planning to investigate the drop in prices in the province, the country’s most important sugar growing area.
“Definitely we will not take this sitting down… none of the farmers want the low price,” he added.
The SRA will focus its probe on sugar mills, traders and importers “to see if there is some abnormality in their dealings, but rest assured that we will get to the bottom of this.”
Mr. Azcona has said that the SRA expects the farmgate price of raw sugar to remain stable after the initial decline in February.
The SRA estimated raw sugar production at 1.85 million metric tons (MT) during the 2023 to 2024 crop year.
The area planted to sugar is expected to have risen by 3,000 hectares, which is expected to raise output by 50 thousand MT.
“We continue to be positive in the growth of the sugar industry and at the moment, we are moving to ensure stable farmgate prices as this has (resulted in) a net increase in land planted to sugar because of last year’s good prices,” he said. — Adrian H. Halili