Sunday, July 22, 2018
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Coca-Cola PH seeks gov’t nod to import sugar

Beverage maker Coca-Cola Femsa Philippines is requesting the government to allow it to directly import sugar due to tight supply here.

“We are working closely with the [Department of Agriculture] and the [Sugar Regulatory Administration] to urgently address our requirement for refined sugar,” said Samantha Sanchez, public affairs and strategic communications manager for Coke.

In an interview with Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, he said Mexican Ambassador to the Philippines Gerardo Lozano Arredondo also requested to meet Thursday to discuss the “unreliable” local supply of sugar, which had been affecting operations of the beverage company.

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Coca-Cola was brought to the Philippines by Mexican multinational beverage and retail company FEMSA.

Piñol admitted to a shortage of refined sugar intended for bottling companies such that “the ambassador wanted to lobby the direct importation of Coke for their sugar requirements.”

The secretary said he was inclined to allow Coca-Cola to directly import if both the local supply and the arriving sugar imports would still not be enough to meet the company’s sugar needs.

“If those who will import sugar for bottlers and processors will not deliver as committed, we will have to protect the interests of these companies by considering direct importation,” he said.

Piñol said the industry should wait for the arrival of the sugar imports, which are expected to arrive in the country no later than September.

Last month, the soft drinks firm reported it had to reduce the production of one of its beverage varieties—Coca-Cola Original Taste—in order to stretch its remaining sugar stockpile.

For the meantime, it “has decided to prioritize the production” of other drink varieties “to ensure an uninterrupted supply to our customers and consumers.”

SRA board member Roland Beltran said in a phone interview that based on the agency’s computation, the 200,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar allowed for importation would be enough to fill the needs of the industry.

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“We are pleased to note that the 200,000 MT of sugar allowed to be imported had been fully allocated to different importers … Moving forward, the importation is enough for the off-milling season,” he said.

Traditionally, sugarcane harvest and milling wane by June until crop season starts again in September.

Of the total sugar imports, half or 100,000 MT of sugar was allocated for the use of industrials. The remaining 100,000 MT would be used for direct consumption.

SRA chief Hermenegildo Serafica revealed that two bottling companies use up to 37,600 metric tons (MT) of sugar in a month.

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