AN OFFICIALfrom Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines Inc. confirmed that its plant in Davao City temporarily suspended operation as the country continues to struggle with the problem of sugar supply.
Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines Corporate and Regulatory Affairs Director Juan Lorenzo Tañada said during the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on Tuesday, August 30, that among those operations affected by the supply shortage are Davao; Imus, Cavite; Zamboanga; and Naga City, Camarines Sur.
"On a day-to-day basis, we may be temporarily suspending operations in certain plants," Tañada said when asked by Senator Risa Hontiveros during the hearing.
"There could probably be a fifth, your honor [Hontiveros], but off the top of my head, I remember four po, four plants at the moment," he added.
Tañada said workers in the suspended plants are not required to come to work, but their salaries and wages are being paid.
Photos circulated online on August 22 of a tarpaulin posted outside the Coca-Cola Plant in Ulas, bearing the words, "This Coca-Cola Plant has suspended operations due to the lack of supply of bottler's grade sugar, as a result of the ongoing sugar crisis."
The next day, the tarpaulin was already removed, according to reports from local media outlets.
Coca-Cola earlier said in a press statement that the bottling industry would need 450,000 metric tons (MT) of premium refined sugar on the heels of the government’s plan to import 150,000 metric tons of sugar to plug a shortfall in local supply.
In a statement on Saturday, August 20, Coca-Cola thanked President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who is also concurrently the head of the Department of Agriculture and Chair of the Sugar Regulatory Administration, for his immediate action in addressing the current shortage of premium refined sugar in the country.
However, the company said that "not all sugar is the same."
"Food and beverage manufacturers need premium refined sugar to maintain high-quality products. This type of sugar is not the same sugar that is commonly used in households," Coca-Cola said.
The beverage firm said there is approximately a 400,000 metric ton gap on top of a starting gap of 200,000 MT of the local sugar supply for 2022.
This was based on a projected demand of 2.3 million MT for 2022 for the entire country, the company said.
Meanwhile, the Coca-Cola official was invited during the committee hearing on the "sugar fiasco" of the country's supply.
Senator Francis Tolentino, presider of the committee hearing, said it aims to uncover whether or not there was a genuine sugar shortage to justify the issuance of Sugar Order No. 4 that would have allowed the importation of 300,000 MT of sugar.