Buy local or face boycott

Local soft drink makers should source sugar locally or face a boycott campaign from sugar producers.

“As soon as local sugar is available, these soft drink companies should buy local and help the domestic industry,” United Sugar Producers Federation President Manuel Lamata said Sunday.

“Otherwise, we will have to call for a boycott against companies which will insist on importing,” he added.

The warning came in response to the statement of bottlers that a shortage in sugar supply is affecting their operations.

Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines Inc. claimed some of its bottling plants have suspended operations due to the adverse effects of the sugar supply shortage.

Yet the company did not identify which of its local facilities have shut down.

Coca-Cola issued the statement following the Sugar Order 4 controversy which President “Bongbong” Marcos disapproved of a Sugar Regulatory Administration program for the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar.

Lamata said bottlers, “which are shameless big-bucks lobbyists” are one of the groups behind SO 4.

“Coca-Cola Philippines confirms that the supply shortage of bottler’s grade sugar has affected the capability of some of our bottling plants to continue producing some products,” the statement of the local affiliate of the multinational beverage giant said.

Coca-Cola said it wanted “a sustainable solution to the problem.”

Local sugar supply adequate

The sugar consumption of soft drink manufacturers is around 450,000 metric tons per year.

“The local industry is capable of supplying their demand but the problem with these American companies is that they prefer cheaper imported sugar mainly from Thailand,” Lamata said.

He added that these companies will “hit the jackpot” if the government will allocate imports for them.

“Imagine they are selling their products at the same price but they get their inputs at low cost,” Lamata told Daily Tribune.

He indicated local bottlers have to buy local inputs since “they are reaping profits from the local market, we should help each other.”

“We’re calling a boycott if they continue to refuse the purchase of local sugar,” he said.

He added: If they insist on importing, they should consider closing shop. They can return to the United States.”

“Soft drinks anyway cause diabetes, we can stop taking these,” he said.

Lamata, however, said the local industry agrees with the 75,000 metric tons of imports for industrial users that the government allowed recently.

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos has approved the importation of 150,000 metric tons of sugar, equally divided to supply the domestic market and industrial users.

“When they consume the 75,000 MT, it will already be harvest season, then the market will have local stock,” the industry leader said.

American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc. executive director Ebb Hinchliffe claimed a supply backlog of 600,000 MT.

Hinchliffe said he had a meeting with Coca-Cola and Pepsi Philippines officials to write the President that the “time might come that sari-sari stores in the country will not sell Coca-Cola, Pepsi and RC Cola by mid or late September and that’s a reality.”

“We need 600 MT and we cannot produce that large amount of sugar overnight. They cannot put 150,000 tons of sugar in an airplane or air freight,” Hinchliffe said.

Lamata earlier urged President Marcos or the Department of Justice to slap economic sabotage charges against “those who signed SO 4.”

He identified resigned SRA administrator Hermenegildo Serafica and Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian, “along with miller-traders” as behind the botched SO 4.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *