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MANILA, Philippines – In a rare joint statement, the Philippines’ top soft drinks makers confirmed reports of a refined sugar shortage, amid surging commodity prices and a government row on imports.
Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines, Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines, and ARC Refreshments Corporation said the industry is facing a shortage of premium refined sugar or bottlers’ grade sugar, “a key ingredient” in their products.
“We are working closely with other stakeholders of the industry and the government to address the situation,” the three companies said.
The Philippines’ projected sugar production of 1.8 million metric tons is 200,000 tons short of the annual demand of 2.03 million metric tons observed in the past three years.
After the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) tried to green-light 200,000 metric tons of imported refined and bottlers’ grade sugar for industrial users in early 2022, local sugar producers secured a temporary restraining order, fearing the importation of cheaper sugar would harm their businesses.
An SRA document initially showed that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. approved the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar, but Malacañang denied the approval.
Leocadio Sebastian, the Department of Agriculture official who signed the document on behalf of Marcos, has since resigned from his post.
SRA Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica also stepped down over the fiasco. – Rappler.com