Sugar producers hit appeal to import molasses
One of the country’s biggest groups of sugar producers has opposed the call of the Ethanol Producers Association of the Philippines (EPAP) to import molasses.
In a statement, the United Sugar Producers Federation (Unifed) said the appeal to import molasses—the raw material used to manufacture bioethanol—rests on false claims that there is a shortage of the commodity.
Unifed vice president and chief of operations Nicolas Kramer said “practically everyone opposed the importation idea because we have more than 270,000 metric tons (MT) of molasses on stock which can be processed by ethanol producers.”
But according to EPAP, the bioethanol requirement under the Biofuels Act cannot be met by local supply alone, noting that only 36 percent of the requirement can be supplied by the local industry.
It noted that the country’s molasses deficit ranges between 440,000 MT and 673,000 MT annually.
The group added that because of the restricted supply, operations were limited to 300 days a year. Sufficient molasses production, however, may extend operations to 345 days a year.
EPAP said importation may be conducted during the off season to ensure that the local industry would not be at a disadvantage.
But according to Unifed, “there is no truth to EPAP’s claim of deficit in supply.”
“We are already reeling from the effects of COVID-19 and we need to embrace the thrust of the national government to buy local as our way to help boost the economy, and here is EPAP pushing for importation again,” the group said.
“They (EPAP) should support the local industry. If storage is their problem, EPAP should invest in building large storage tanks where they can keep their local molasses during milling season,” it added.
Unifed president Manuel Lamata called on the rest of the Bioethanol Consultative Board (BCB) and the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) to “remain vigilant” even if EPAP’s proposal had already been rejected by the BCB as they may find another venue to again lobby for molasses importation, citing EPAP’s letter to House Committee on Energy chair Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo.
EPAP’s appeal for molasses importation came just as the sugar milling season is about to begin, and after SRA allowed the importation of sugar.