Import delay worsens sugar shortage in Philippines

MANILA • A sugar shortage in the Philippines has worsened, with local production missing forecasts and a delay in planned imports of up to 200,000 tonnes of the refined sweetener, the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) said yesterday.

Raw sugar output in the crop year ending Aug 31 is now seen at 1.8 million tonnes, below a previous estimate of 1.98 million tonnes and compared with average annual demand of 2.03 million tonnes in the past three crop years, the government agency said.

SRA cited the lingering effect of crop damage from a typhoon that hit plantations in December, and unfavourable weather conditions.

The shortage, which has kept sugar prices elevated for months, adds to inflationary pressures in the Philippines, with consumer prices rising at the fastest pace in more than three years last month due to high fuel and food costs.

"Prices have gone out of hand and there is this situation that we are about to run out of sugar," SRA administrator Hermenegildo Serafica said in a statement.

While there are no signs yet of panic buying or hoarding, the shortage and rising sugar prices will be among key challenges for President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr, who will take on the Department of Agriculture portfolio when he assumes power on June 30.

SRA had approved the importation of 200,000 tonnes of standard and bottler's grade refined sugar, announced in February. But the plan was delayed after a local sugar producers' group sought a court restraining order.

The importation has now been allowed, but Mr Serafica said "the damage caused by the delay... was already done and is being felt now".


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2022, with the headline Import delay worsens sugar shortage in Philippines. Subscribe