CITY OF SAN FERNANDO — Markets and consumers in Central Luzon are now feeling the “brunt” of the rise in the prices of sugar, Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Director Redentor Gatus said Wednesday.

"The worldwide demand of sugar is so high that our local producers of sugar, most of them are from Negros, are holding back their supply that made us feel the effects of this phenomenon," he said.

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The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) noted a 15 percent increase in sugar price that reached P60 a kilo from the suggested P52.

In major markets in Pampanga, the price of refined sugar has increased by P2 per kilo compared to its prices a month ago based on the price monitoring conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Central Luzon.

At supermarkets in major cities of Central Luzon, it was learned that white sugar is being sold at P45 per kilo from P43 a month ago. Brown sugar, on the other hand, was being sold at P37.50 while its price a month ago was only P34.

Gatus is urging consumers sector to reduce consumption of sugar and start shifting to a healthier, sugar-free diet.

“Pinoys are known as heavy, unrepentant sugar consumers. We always like our food and dishes sweetened without realizing that there’s a bitter side to our heavy sugar intake. It is therefore no surprise that there’s a high incidence of diabetes among our people,” he said.

He said that though reducing sugar consumption in the local market will not entirely solve the problem, it would however; provide a short term solution to minimizing consumption and demands.

In a related development, DTI Provincial Director Leonila Baluyut clarified Wednesday that the increase in sugar prices was not due to taxes or the expanded value added tax (E-VAT). She said it was caused by world market forces and domestic supply situation.

Baluyut said the public must be informed about the real cause of the price increase, which is tied to increased demand.

Another probable cause, she said, is that Brazil -- the biggest sugar producer in the world -- has converted more than 50 percent of its sugar plantation into ethanol gas production - an environmentally friendly bio-diesel product, thus resulting in the reduction of sugar production world-wide.

"We have no shortage of sugar in the country, but then, due to the increase of our quota for sugar exportation, production in the local level was affected due to the law of supply and demand," she stressed.

She said that traders who will violate the Price Act, Fair Trade Laws, Price Tag Law and product standardization will be charged for violations of such laws.

Meanwhile, some bakers and bread makers in Pampanga said they have started producing less bread with sugar components and have downsized even their mass production due to the rising cost in sugar.

“The sugar is a basic ingredient in making novelty bread that we sell in the market particularly in the barangays. If we do not decrease production we might be left with recovering cost through raising bread prices,” Joselito Datu, a local bread producer here said.

Datu said they expect to see bread prices rise in the coming days if sugar prices are not brought back to their “normal level.”