PHILIPPINES: HFCS imports cost sugar producers US$212 million

Published: 01/10/2017, 12:41:06 PM

The sugar industry loses about PHP10.5 billion (US$212 million) due to the importation and use of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) by beverage and food producers in the country, the Confederation of Sugar Producers Inc. said, according to the Philippines' Manila Bulletin newspaper.

Records of the Bureau of Customs for 2016 showed that HFCS imports reached 234,863 metric tonnes, or an equivalent of 352,294.5 metric tonnes of sugar.

"This spells a loss of PHP10.5 billion in the industry and since sugar farming is still the economic lifeblood of Negros, this will result to an economic disaster if not addressed," Confed national president, Francis de la Rama, said.

Confed has joined the mounting calls for the Sugar Regulatory Administration and government officials to act on the massive entry of high fructose corn syrup by beverage and food producers, that is bound to kill the sugar industry.

"Our research shows that beverage companies made a shift of utilizing higher volumes of artificial sweeteners (mostly HFCS) in the formulation of their beverage products at the expense of the domestically produced sugar. This High Fructose Corn Syrup is a 100% imported product and is a sweetener," De la Rama added.

The Kilusang Pagbabago Negros Island Region, that also joined the call to oppose the importation of HFCS by various industrial users and food processors, noted in a statement that HFCS accounts for 80% of the sweeteners used by softdrink makers.

The importation of HFCS has driven down sugar prices from a high of more than PHP1,800 per 50-kilo bag at the start of the milling season September last year, to less than PHP1,500 per bag in the last week of December 2016, the Kilusang Pagbabago NIR said.

HFCS importation tripled in the past two years and resulted in "very low demand" for domestic sugar and subsequently a drop in mill gate prices, de la Rama also said.

This trend has to stop, or we will face another crisis," he warned.

There are about 5 million Filipinos who are directly and indirectly affected by this and 90% of the sugar industry is composed of agrarian reform beneficiaries and small farmers.

Confed is urging SRA to execute its mandate in managing and regulating the supply of sweeteners in the country.