PH still faces shortfall in sugar production

Published October 6, 2020, 2:51 PM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

While the outlook for the Philippines’ sugar production for the current crop year is positive, it still wouldn’t be enough to satisfy the projected demand in the country, data from the US Development Authority (USDA) showed.  

USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) here in Manila (Post) said in the latest Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report that Philippines’ raw sugar production in Market Year (MY) 2020 to 2021 is projected to reach 2.19 million metric tons (MT), up 2 percent from the previous year, due to improved sugar cane genetics and farm management.

Sugar consumption, however, is also expected to increase slightly to 2.35 million MT as the economy continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, with higher demand from industrial and institutional users.

This means that there will be a shortfall of about 160,000 MT of sugar.

Currently, about 40 percent of raw sugar production goes to refining, with the rest consumed directly as raw (brown) sugar.  

The same USDA report showed that the Philippines may have a total sugar imports of about 200,000 MT for this year.

While this is slightly higher than what is needed to fill in the gap, the latest forecast is actually lower than what the agency is expecting the Philippines’ total sugar imports to be.

Earlier, USDA said sugar imports for the current market year would be 450,000 MT.

The problem, however, is that the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration’s (PAGASA) recently said that it is likely that some parts of the country would experience La Niña.

“If realized, the likely impact would be a moderate decline in production,” the GAIN report said.

“Sugarcane area during MY 2020 to 2021 is expected to stay flat, as sugar planters continue to face labor shortages and remain cautious about the impact of the liberalization of sugar trade being studied by the government,” it further said.