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Cebu News

City Council asks: Are soft drinks prices reasonable?

Mary Ruth R. Malinao - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — The Cebu City Council wants the city government to inquire from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) whether soft drinks from Coke, Pepsi, and RC that are sold in the market are priced reasonably following confirmation of a shortage in refined sugar.

Councilor Pancrasio Esparis sponsored a resolution on the matter that the Council approved.

In August 2022, the Philippines’ top soft drinks makers confirmed reports of a refined sugar shortage, amid surging commodity prices and a government row on imports.

Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines, Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines, and ARC Refreshments Corporation said the industry is facing a shortage of premium refined sugar or bottlers’ grade sugar, “a key ingredient” in their products.

“We are working closely with other stakeholders of the industry and the government to address the situation,” the three companies said.

Esparis said protecting the interest of Cebuano consumers must be a priority. He said it is understandable that prices go up every time supply is scarce but this is also the time when unscrupulous individuals take advantage of the situation.

“It cannot be denied, however, that it is when supply is scarce that some people become opportunistic to the point of profiting unreasonably,” Esparis said.

The Council likewise requested DTI to submit to the Sangguniang Panlungsod a report on the steps the agency is taking to protect the interest of Cebu City consumers in view of the sugar shortage.

It has been reported that the United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines (Unifed) accused traders of trying to maximize their profits amid reports that the retail price of refined sugar remains high at P100 per kilo in some markets in Metro Manila.

Senator Risa Hontiveros renewed her warning that there is 'an actual — and not just anticipated — sugar shortage.'

Hontiveros urged the government to act swiftly to avoid soaring food prices and the loss of livelihood of sugar industry workers around the country.

A portion of Section 2 (Declaration of Basic Policy) of Republic Act 7581 or the “Price Act” provides "It is the policy of the State to ensure the availability of basic necessities and prime commodities at reasonable prices at all times without denying legitimate business a fair return of investment.” — JMO (FREEMAN)

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