No sugar imports ’til early 2023

The Sugar Regulatory Administration said it might not be importing sugar at least until early next year as the country’s sugar situation normalizes once refinery operations resume in full swing and the 150,000 metric tons of imported sugar reaches the market by next month.

At a press conference on Tuesday, SRA acting administrator David John Thaddeus P. Alba said the agency will monitor the output of mills and refineries to ensure that it can apply all necessary measures once the need to import arises.

“By November, all the mills and refineries will be in operation. Likely, we will not import at least by early next year but the SRA will monitor the outputs of mills and refineries so we will see the trend around March or April. Usually, around March or April we will know the situation if we will need to import,” Alba told reporters.

The SRA, through Sugar Order No. 2 issued last week, allowed the importation of 150,000 metric tons of sugar as a “stop-gap measure” to ensure the stability of supply in the market.

The order, signed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., allocated 75,000 MT for industrial users and another 75,000 MT for consumers.

The order mandates that sugar traders participating in the import program need to ensure that their respective allocated volumes arrive in the Philippines before 15 November.

Easing prices

Once the imported supply arrives Alba said consumers can expect a slight easing in sugar prices at around P70 to P80 per kilogram, lower than the current P95 per kilo of refined sugar, P75 per kilo of washed sugar, and P72.50 per kilo of brown sugar.

“Hopefully by November, once all imported refined goods come in we should see stabilization of prices,” said Alba.

The SRA also issued Sugar Order No. 1 series of 2022 to 2023, which strictly allocates all sugar produced during the crop year 2022 to 2023 for domestic consumption to avoid dependence on sugar imports.

The SRA said that 100 percent of raw sugar production for the current crop year should be classified as “B” or the domestic sugar market.

Based on latest SRA projection, total raw sugar production for crop year 2022 to 2023 is estimated to reach 1.87 million metric tons, while the total domestic raw sugar withdrawal during the year is pegged at 2.03 million MT.

Historically, the country must have carryover stocks of 250,000 MT of raw sugar and around 200,000 MT to 250,000 MT of refined sugar at the end of any crop year.

A crop year starts in September and ends in August of the following year, although it must be noted that sugar mills and refineries generally stop operations around May to June. Mills start operation for the next season around September to October while refineries start some two weeks after mill operations.

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