Group asks Bongbong Marcos to deny beverage firms' request for direct sugar importation | Inquirer News

Group asks Bongbong Marcos to deny beverage firms’ request for direct sugar importation

Most of the raided sugar warehouses in the country have shown proper documents to show that their stocks are not smuggled, a Bureau of Customs (BOC) official said on Thursday. 

Sacks of imported sugar stored in warehouses.| FILE PHOTO

BACOLOD CITY — The largest sugar association in the country has appealed to President Marcos to deny the request of beverage companies to directly import sugar that they need.

Manual Lamata, president of the United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines (Unifed), said he was informed that Coca Cola Beverages Philippines Inc., Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines Inc., ARC Refreshments Corporation, Nestle Philippines Inc., Alaska Milk Corporation, and Monde Nissin Corporation wanted to meet with the President to allow industrial users to directly import premium refined sugar.


“This is sheer greed from the likes of Coca Cola who has amassed fortune from us Filipinos who patronize their products. This lobby to allow them to import directly will affect the more than five million stakeholders of the sugar industry who are ironically their consumers as well,” he said in a statement on Sunday, March 26.

“These beverage companies should be buying local sugar because we buy their local products. I hope President Marcos will continue to have his heart and protect the farmers from these greedy companies,” he added.


In a March 22 letter addressed to President Marcos, the beverage companies complained about sugar supply, its high price, and the alleged “outright refusal” of traders to provide price quotes to industrial buyers.

These companies urged the President to consider available options that would allow beverage firms to directly import premium refined sugar to address the shortage and stabilize prices of domestic sugar, and to prevent future supply crises.

“We propose that importation be used to create a buffer stock for at least one quarter, and prices for imports for sale in the Philippines should be pegged closer to world market price,” read the letter signed by Gareth Mc Geown, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Coca Cola; Frederick Dy Ong, president and CEO of Pepsi; Jeffrey Yao, director of ARC Refreshments Corporation; Kais Marzouki, chair and CEO of Nestle; Tarang Gupta, managing director of Alaska; and Henry Soesanto, CEO of Monde Nissin.

These companies claimed they comprise over 90 percent of industrial users and have concerns to present to the President, including sugar scarcity, quality, and sugar pricing in the country that allegedly threatens their business operations and the livelihoods of tens of thousands of workers.

Lamata said the beverage companies have earned billions of revenues from people, and that they could surely protect their workers and their interests for decades to come.

“Allowing them to directly import now will not just kill the sugar industry, but kill the millions dependent on this industry just so they can further enrich themselves at our expense,” he said.

“An importation program has already been signed by the President already, so what scarcity of supply are they still talking about? This is nothing but pure greed from multinationals who continue to prey on us Filipino consumers,” he added.


Lamata said the beverage companies had the guts to issue a threat that since they are the top taxpayers and contributors to the national economy with their P40 billion per year contribution, their ability to sustain the level of contribution can only be sustained if they are able to prevent production challenges brought about by sugar scarcity occurring anew.

“That amount shows how big these industries are and have, in fact, lobbied money to spread around and we can see their influence from pronouncements of their defenders picturing them as victims of circumstance,” he said.

While there is a need to import sugar, Lamata said the national government has already addressed the matter.

“We continue to have faith in the President and we know his heart is for the farmers, for those who continue to toil our fields, and for those who have been born, raised and continue to protect the sugar industry,” Lamata said.


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Bongbong Marcos discusses sugar supply with food manufacturers

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