SUGAR farmers said low sugar prices at millgate level are due to the preference by traders to deal in imports, according to the Confederation of Sugar Producers Associations, Inc. (CONFED).
In a statement, CONFED said that more imported sugar is being withdrawn by traders, resulting in prices realized by planters remaining at P2,300–P2,500 per 50-kilogram bag.
“Compared to locally refined sugar, imported refined sugar is cheaper, and so it will deliver more profit for importers and traders,” CONFED President Aurelio J. Valderrama, Jr. said.
Citing data from the Sugar Regulatory Administration, it said that out of 209,408 metric tons (MT) of sugar withdrawn from stocks, 32% (66,608 MT) was locally refined sugar and 68% (142,800 MT) was imported.
Mr. Valderrama called for the intervention of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to grant priority to locally refined sugar.
It added that producers could suffer if locally refined sugar was not given priority as 40% of raw sugar is being withdrawn for refining.
“While millgate prices drop, retail prices remain high. Clearly, neither sugar farmers nor consumers are benefitting from this situation,” CONFED said.
It added that millgate prices will continue to drop due to the oversupply of raw sugar. In recent weeks prices have declined from P2,500 to P2,300 per 50-kg bag.
The SRA has said that it was pushing for a suggested retail price for refined sugar of P85 per kg.
In September, the SRA issued Resolution No. 2023-159 which required importers to distribute their allocations by Oct. 15.
The resolution also reclassified 150,000 MT of imported refined sugar as buffer stock.
“Sugar farmers want to know now, how much of the 150,000 MT was actually distributed and how much was left undistributed as a result of the Board Resolution,” CONFED said.
On Sunday, another producer’s group called for government intervention due to the continued divergence of raw sugar millgate prices with retail prices, according to the United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines (UNIFED).
UNIFED said the government should engage in sugar purchasing to help farmers.
The regulator earlier projected a trading price for the commodity of P3,000 per 50-kg bag.
Meanwhile, Mr. Valderrama said his organization has also urged President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to provide fuel subsidies to sugar producers “because production inputs continue to rise even as sugar prices go down.” — Adrian H. Halili