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Coca-Cola, Pepsi, RC: Softdrinks industry facing sugar shortage

Top makers of popular carbonated beverages on Tuesday said the bottling industry is bearing the brunt of declining supply of sugar in the country.

In a joint statement, Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines Inc., Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines Inc., and ARC Refreshments Corp. confirmed that “our industry is facing a shortage of premium refined sugar – a key ingredient in many of our products.”

“We are working closely with other stakeholders of the industry and the government to address the situation,” the soft-drinks makers said.

“We thank our customers and the public for their continued support to our products and for their understanding,” they added.

The bottlers’ statement came amidst the controversial issuance of Sugar Order No. 4 (SO4), authorizing the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar which was later on deemed “illegal” as it was signed without the knowledge and expressed approval of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who as the concurrent secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA) also sits as the chairman of the Sugar Board.

The issue compelled Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian, who signed the order on Marcos’ behalf, to resign.

Sugar Regulatory Administration Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica and Sugar Board member Atty. Roland Beltran also tendered their respective resignations in the aftermath of the SO4 controversy. 

Sugar industry stakeholders have lauded the rejection of SO4, saying it was “ill-advised” as the sugar milling season is about to start and some of the sugar imported early this year are in the warehouses of industrial users. 

In a separate statement, the Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF) said that it has been informed that a number of bottling and fruit juice companies have cut down on the number of workers they hire because of inadequate sugar supply and the soaring prices of sugar in the country.

“They will be compelled to close down their operations soon if there will be no sugar available in the coming months. In fact, a number of these food processing companies had already decided to relocate their operations to neighboring countries because of the high cost of raw materials in the Philippines, particularly sugar which is a basic ingredient in food processing,” FEF said. —NB, GMA News