CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – The grocery shelves that used to display soft drinks are empty, and small neighborhood stores in Cagayan de Oro are selling these popular non-alcoholic beverages at prices twice as much as they did in July.
The shortage in the supply of the fast-selling soft drinks is hurting sari-sari stores in the city and other areas, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) officials said on Monday, October 3.
DTI-Misamis Oriental director Almer Masillones said the shortage adversely affected small store owners more than groceries and fast food outlets.
“Sari-sari store owners are already complaining about the shortage, and wondering where they can get their supplies,” Masillones said.
He said the situation has worried government regulators because soft drinks, while not basic commodities, are considered essential to the business of small neighborhood store owners.
The soft drink scarcity came even as the Philippines projected a sugar production of 2.03 million metric tons in 2022, which is short by 200,000 MT.
Major beverage companies Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, and ARC Refreshments Corporation have confirmed a shortage in premium-refined sugar, an important ingredient in their beverage products.
In August, Coca-Cola Philippines was forced to suspend operations in some of its key manufacturing plants in the country because of the shortage of sugar.
Lawyer Ruth Sybil Salvador, the local DTI mediation officer, said the situation resulted in the hoarding of soft drinks, especially the popular beverage products of Coca-Cola.
Salvador said the local DTI office has already received complaints from store owners about the soft drink hoarding in some warehouses.
Officials were also informed that the shortage pushed the retail prices of soft drinks by as much as 100% in Cagayan de Oro.
In one subdivision in uptown Cagayan de Oro, a 1.5-liter Coke is now being sold for more than P100.
“A small bottle of soft drink is more expensive than the price of a liter of gasoline or diesel,” complained Menzie Montes, a reporter from Radio Mindanao Network’s I-FM in Cagayan de Oro. – Rappler.com