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Sugar output seen rising by 7%.

PHILIPPINE sugar production in marketing year (MY) 2018-2019 could grow by at least 7 percent to 2.225 million metric tons, from the previous year's output of 2.1 MMT, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network (Gain) report.

The Gain report, which was prepared by the US Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Service in Manila, based its projection on the expected recovery of sugarcane output in the country.

The report noted that total sugarcane milled in MY 2017-2018, which runs from December 2017 to November 2018, would increase slightly to 24 MMT from 23.86 MMT recorded in the previous MY.

'Industry sources, however, believe that raw sugar output may be even lower than what is officially projected by the Sugar Regulatory Administration [SRA], due to continued farm labor shortages and possible unfavorable weather conditions contributing to the low sugar content of cane produced,' the report read.

The Gain report projected that the country's sugar demand in MY 2017-2018 would remain flat at 2.25 MMT 'as demand for sugar by industrial users remains strong due to import restrictions and increased taxes on sugar substitutes.'

Furthermore, the Gain report expected that the country's sugar imports in the same period would climb to 300,000 metric tons, from 200,000 MT to augment local supply.

Earlier, the SRA said it expects sugar output in crop year (CY) 2018-2019, which kicked off on September 1, to recover and grow by nearly 6 percent to 2.225 MMT.

In Sugar Order 1 it issued in August, the SRA estimated that total sugar output in the current crop year would be higher than the 2.1 MMT produced in CY 2017-2018.

The decline in the country's sugar output in CY 2017-2018 has been attributed to 'unfavorable weather conditions,' particularly the increase in rainfall over some sugar-producing provinces. Rains affect the yield of sugarcane, as wet canes have lower sugar content.

Under SO 1, the SRA allocated 95 percent of the total estimated sugar output in CY 2018-2019, or some 2.114 MMT, for the domestic market. The remaining 5 percent, or around 111,250 MT, would be shipped to the United States.

The SRA expects total area planted with sugarcane in CY 2018-2019 to reach 423,447.61 hectares, which would produce about 24.702 MMT of sugarcanes.

Direct selling

The Confederation of Sugar Producers (Confed) in Negros said some of their member-planters have started to sell sugar directly to consumers should be lower than the prevailing retail prices.

Confed-Negros member-planters under the La Carlota Mill District Multi-Purpose Cooperative and the Associacion de Agricultores de La Carlota Y Pontevedra sold washed, or premium raw sugar, at P45 per kilogram, compared to the prevailing retail price of P48 per kg to P56 per kg.

The group made the initiative following a dialogue with SRA Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica wherein they discussed how the sugar planters could help in addressing the country's high inflation rate. The meeting was held in Talisay City, Negros Occidental.

Confed-Negros President Nicolas Ledesma said he will propose that the initiative be replicated across all sugar districts nationwide.

'[We are doing this] as part of our share in helping this government that has also helped us in the past two years, when the sugar industry was beset with problems, particularly on the entry of high fructose corn syrup,' Ledesma said in a statement over

the weekend.

Confed is the biggest group of sugar producers, accounting for over 65 percent of the total sugar farmers in the Philippines.
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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Oct 8, 2018
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