PRA Cebu confirms scarce soda supply

·4 min read

THE shortage of milled sugar has affected not only beverage and soda products, but also other food products that require sugar to produce.

This was the statement of Robert Go, chairman and spokesperson of the Philippine Retailers Association-Cebu Chapter, when sought for comment about the announcement of bottler companies, confirming the shortage of premium refined sugar in the country.

“As of today, there is no Coke, there is no Pepsi, there is no Zest-O, sweet drink. There is also a shortage of 3-in-1 coffee. There is also shortage of beverages that need sugar and also shortage of sugar in the market that have gone sky high to P120 per kilo from P45,” Go told Sunstar Cebu.

He said this is a “disaster in the making” because a lot of products that require sugar are no longer available in the local supermarkets and stores while fast-food restaurants are having a hard time providing beverages to customers.

“It is a havoc. It is a disaster. Never in history that we are so much in need of sugar and there is no sugar to be provided to the people,” the official added.

Importation

Go urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to allow the importation of refined sugar to alleviate the shortage of supply in the country.

Recent calamities such as Typhoon Odette (Rai) affected much of the sugar production across the country, especially milled that resulted in its dwindling supply.

The next milling season for refined sugar will be in September to October. Meanwhile, its delivery to market is expected to be from November to December.

“When you mill, it will take a month before it becomes sugar before it is to be delivered in November and December. What happens is between now until November or December, there are no drinks and worse there is no supply of sugar in the market. Or if there is, it is double the price,” Go said.

He said that two months ago, the supply level of milled sugar in the country had already reached a red level.

This year, only about 75 to 85 percent of farms are projected to produce milled sugar in the country versus last year’s farm output.

The current percentage of farm-produced sugar could not support the demand of soda companies, hence, it was recommended months ago that importation of sugar was needed.

Rise of the cost of primary goods or inflation, Go said, is not far from becoming true with the shortage of sugar, aside from anticipated lay-offs of workers in manufacturing plants and factories.

Shortage

The Philippines’ sugar production this year is about 200,000 tons short from the annual demand of 2.03 million metric tons. It is projected that only around 1.8 million metric tons of sugar will be produced for the current year.

Amid the sugar shortage issue, several high officials of the Department of Agriculture resigned from their posts after Malacañang denied the approval of the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar.

Agriculture Undersecretary for Operations Leocadio Sebastian who signed the document on behalf of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. resigned from his post while Sugar Regulatory Administration Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica also stepped down amid the issue.

Affected distributor

A major wholesaler and distributor of soda products in Southern Cebu, who asked for anonymity, told SunStar that before there was a shortage of Coca-Cola products, he could distribute around 500-600 cases per day to his retailers.

When the shortage of Coca-Cola products was experienced around the last week of July through the first week of August, his sales doubled to 1,000 cases per day.

However, in mid-August, bottling companies obligated them to allocate only 100-150 cases per day, due to rising demand for the soda products.

Even retailers coming from Talisay City and Cebu City and other municipalities visited his shop in order to purchase soda products.

He mentioned that supply of the regular bottle size of Pepsi products was also affected.

Solution

Go urged the government and stakeholders to invest in a long-term solution to ensure a stable supply of sugar.

There must be an ample amount of research and planning to stabilize and produce more crops not only for sugar, he said.

“There should be proper planning because every year we have shortages. After milling, in-between milling, and the next milling there is a shortage of sugar. The government should also import to stabilize the sugar in the market; otherwise, prices will go up and down,” Go said.