THE chief of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) said the release of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) shipments, which arrived in the country before the sugar order regulating its entry took effect, can worsen the sugar prices.
Beverage firms are seeking to utilize the more than 300,000 tons of HFCS, which was held in various ports in the country, for six months.
SRA’s Sugar Order No. 3 was issued on February 17, and took effect on March 10.
The proposal to release the stocks was endorsed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
SRA Administrator Anna Rosario Paner said Friday, April 7, that the release of “old” HFCS shipments will “dampen the (sugar) prices even more.”
However, she remained positive that the sugar industry can recover from the drawback especially if “no big volumes of HFCS are allowed entry” into the country after.
Paner said the sugar order regulating the HFCS importation is in place, adding that “only old shipments before the sugar order are currently being released,” she added.
Beverage firms are using HFCS as alternative sugar for the manufacture of softdrinks and other beverages, but industry leaders said its importation caused a huge drop in sugar prices.
Paner said the sugar prices this week is “slightly lower” compared to last week’s.
On the reports that Coca-Cola Femsa Philippines withdrew the petition for injunction against the sugar order, Paner said she did not receive any motion from the beverage giant.
Coca-Cola Femsa Philippines had sought a temporary restraining order on SRA’s sugar order, which the court denied, but its petition for injunction is pending before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court. The next hearing will be held on May 10.
Earlier, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said that Coke is poised to withdraw the case following his recent dialogue with the beverage firms and other sectors.
He also said that Coca-Cola agreed to increase their consumption of local sugar, from 90 percent HFCS and 10 percent domestic sugar to 80 percent HFCS and 20 percent local sugar.
However, various sectors, including the provincial government and restaurants in Negros Occidental, have boycotted Coke products, which allegedly contains HFCS.
The Senate hearing on the importation of HFCS will be held on April 18.