Food manufacturers appeal for sugar import allocation
Ehda M. Dagooc (The Freeman) - October 15, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  The food manufacturing sector in the Philippines is asking the government to grant a sugar import allocation, in order to be competitive amid the entry of cheaper products from other countries.

The Philippine Chamber of Agriculture & Food Inc (PCAFI) and member  Philippine Food Processors &  Exporters Organization (Philfoodex) claimed that if granted, this will cut sugar cost for food manufacturing because cost of sugar in the local market is pegged at  P55-P60 per kilo versus P28-P30 per kilo in other South East Asian countries, particularly Thailand PCAFI President Danilo V Fausto said a petition signed by the two organizations addressed to Department of Agriculture (DA) secretary William D. Dar.

The group asked the government to grant a maximum of 10 percent sugar import allocation or an estimated 105,000 metric tons (MT) annually.

According to Fausto, this move is pushed in order o stabilize their manufacturing input and raise their global competitiveness with heftily lower cost.

The country’s annual sugar production placed at 2.1 million metric tons (MT). However, even just half of this amount, or 105,000 MT will be good enough to significantly raise food processors’ global competitiveness, he added.

Fausto said the group will issue a petition to be submitted to Dar and President Rodrigo Duterte.

“We will also propose an implementation mechanism that will ensure this allocation will not go to the retail market but rather help our food producers become competitive,” said Fausto.

Philfoodex President Roberto C. Amores said not even the entire 10 percent of production will be asked by processors.

Initially, only 50 percent of each company’s sugar requirement based on its production program is proposed to be granted to the company.

“We’re not talking about even 10 percent of the 2.1 million.  We’re not requesting for liberalization. We’re requesting for import allocation for stabilization for the cause of processors,” Amores said.

Dr. Rolandy Dy, Center for Food & Agribusiness (University of Asia & the Pacific) chief and PCAFI member, said the sugar import allocation for local food processors is necessary.

“We’re not competitive.  Never mind (if we’re not competitive in) softdrinks which is not exportable because softdrinks are heavy. The problem is we’re not competitive in products like biscuits, candies,” said Dy.

Filipino food processors can hardly compete with ASEAN biscuit manufacturers.

“I’m talking about those 4,500 food processors who are paying P55 versus P28. When Apollo biscuits from Malaysia (or Indonesia) arrive here, it’s only P10. Pero pag gumawa si Mang Pandoy ng Apollo biscuits nya, P15 ang puhunan nya,” said Amores.

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