Sugar sector steps up campaign vs Coke shift to HFCS
The country’s sugar capital is ready to boycott Coca-Cola products anew if the beverage company would proceed with its plan to switch to using high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in its operations.
Sugar industry leaders who talked to the Inquirer said stakeholders in Negros Occidental were “up in arms” about the issue and they were ready to confront the company if it would not stay true to its word.
Last year, Coca-Cola executives pledged their support to the local sugar industry by committing to use sugar in its operations. However, the company recently wrote to the Department of Finance last month asking that it be allowed to switch back to using HFCS.
Following the backlash, the company issued a statement on Friday saying that it was “committed to continue supporting the local sugar industry,” adding that it remained to be the biggest purchaser of domestic sugar.
“However, given the supply shortages last year and the continuous decline of local sugar production, the company was asked to provide alternative solutions to ensure continuity of supply while supporting the local sugar industry,” it said.
“The recommendations … were predicated on the unavailability of local refined sugar supply,” it added.
In 2017, more than 40 restaurants in Negros Occidential boycotted Coke products for containing HFCS.
It sent a strong message to the company, which eventually decided to hold negotiations with the sector.
The region accounts for about 60 percent of the country’s total sugar output, with about 240,000 hectares of land dedicated to sugarcane against 400,000 ha nationwide. —KARL R. OCAMPO
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