DESPITE projections that sugar prices and supply will be volatile until December, sugar planters should see this as an opportunity and plant more sugarcane instead.

Rey Calooy, owner of RNC Marketing Philippines, described the volatility of sugar prices and supply as a “lovely problem” because it provides opportunities to farmers to shift to sugar planting.

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Calooy’s business, RNC Marketing Philippines, does toll packing of coffee, non-dairy cream, refined and brown sugar, which are then supplied to famous coffee establishments in the country.

Increase production

“Now that we have problems on the supply side, farmers can take advantage of the situation to plant more to increase sugar production,” he said.

He said that way, the country can address the growing demand, especially with the approaching holidays.

Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) Cebu officer-in-charge Wilfredo Monares said prices in the Visayas for refined white sugar range from P55 to P61 a kilo while brown sugar is at P51.50 to P58 a kilo. The government’s suggested retail price for sugar early this month was P52 a kilo.

Monares said the problem on sugar supply is due to the lingering effects of the El Niño phenomenon. He said, however, that the start of milling operations in September will help address problems on sugar supply.

“But prices of sugar will not automatically go down,” he said in a phone interview yesterday.

Like Calooy, Monares said they also encourage sugar planters to plant more for the country to cope with the volatile supply. However, he said concerns on availability of plantlets hampers farmers from allotting additional areas for sugar planting.

Import

Monares also said the demand for sugar will continue to go up with the approaching holidays.

To address the problem on sugar supply, Monares said the country imports white sugar from countries like Thailand and Malaysia. The first batch of sugar imports, consisting of 150,000 metric tons (mt), arrived in July. The second batch of 100,000 mt is expected to arrive later this month or in September.

“The volume of sugar imports is just enough to serve as a buffer before the start of the milling season,” he said. The annual consumption of sugar in the Philippines is about two million tons.