THE price of sugar is beginning to stabilize after the National Food Authority (NFA) intervened in the market by selling refined sugar at a subsidized price of P48 per kilogram (kg) from the reported P54.

NFA, through the agency’s Institutionalized Bigasan sa Palengke outlets started distributing refined sugar in February following the issuance of Executive Order 857 issued on last January 29 authorizing the agency to intervene in the stabilization of supply and prices of sugar in view of the current tight sugar situation in the market.

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Based on the price monitoring conducted by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics from February 9-13, weekly average of retail prices of sugar in Metro Manila was recorded at P54.53/kg for refined sugar, washed at P47.77/kg and brown at P45.80/kg.

Prices of refined sugar reached a high of P 60/kg prior to the issuance of EO 857.

NFA Administrator Jessup Navarro said out of the initial 700 bags of 50 kilograms allocated by the Sugar Regulatory Administration for sale through the NFA, the agency had already distributed a total of 439 bags or 21,950 kilograms to various market outlets in Metro Manila.

The NFA is repacking the sugar into one-kilogram pack for easy distribution to consumers.

To mitigate the shortfall in domestic sugar supply, the government has allowed the importation of 150,000 MT refined sugar by the private sector using the tax expenditure subsidy of the NFA as provided for under Executive Order 857.

The first tranche of 60,000 metric tons (MT) was done through open bidding of the performance bond while the second tranche of 90,000 metric tons will be done through export-replacement program of the sugar industry.

The first tranche is expected to arrive by May 15, while the delivery of the second tranche is up to July 31 this year.

Meanwhile, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Provincial Director Leonila Baluyut said they expect the supply to reach major markets in Central Luzon.

“Sugar prices here have been showing signs of improvement. This importation would greatly help local prices,” Baluyut said.

However, the importation is expected to arrive by May. Until then, she said, consumers should reduce their sugar consumption. (Press release with report from Ian Ocampo Flora)