SRA to endorse another round of sugar importation

Retail prices of sugar have zoomed past the P100-per-kilogram level, prompting the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) to push for more imports of this sweetener.

SRA Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica said in a radio interview that the agency was looking at importing 300,000 metric tons of sugar as the country’s sugar stockpile has been depleted.

Beefing up local supply through imports is expected to curb rising sugar prices.

“We are already using up our buffer stock. [The] SRA management will be endorsing a sugar order to the board by next week,” Serafica earlier told the Inquirer in a text message.

“This will be for all, industrial and retail included. But we can’t go into details since it is not yet final,” he added.

In a separate interview, Serafica said the SRA was looking at importing sugar from Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The SRA will discuss the planned importation with Agriculture Undersecretary-designate and spokesperson Kristine Evangelista next week.

In Metro Manila, refined sugar retails from P70.50 per kg to P115 per kg in supermarkets, while in wet markets, the price ranges from P90 to P96 per kg, based on the SRA’s price monitoring as of July 29. Last year, sugar prices in supermarkets ranged from just P50 to P63 per kg and P50 to P58 in wet markets.

Raw sugar, on the other hand, is sold from P54.60 to P82 per kg in supermarkets, and in wet markets from P65 to P80 per kg. This time last year, prices ranged from P41.07 to P56.85 a kg in supermarkets and in wet markets, P42 to P48 a kg.

“Our supply is dwindling yet the demand is increasing, especially with the reopening of economy. Prices have really increased and if you will recall, we had an importation program early in February,” said Serafica.