Supermarkets sell sugar at P70/kilo

SM, Robinsons, Puregold cut SRP on Palace’s plea

The country’s leading supermarkets have agreed to bring down the price of sugar to as low as P70 per kilogram, Malacañang announced Friday.

This came about after Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez, upon the instruction of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., held a series of talks with owners of Robinsons Supermarket, SM Supermarket, and Puregold Supermarket, the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) said.

The OPS said the supermarket owners heeded Marcos’ appeal to lower the price of sugar to P70.

“They all agreed to the suggested retail price of P70 per kilo of sugar, from a high of P90 to P110 per kilo,” it said in a statement.

The government is also determining if the country’s sugar shortage was “artificial,” Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said on Friday.

When asked if President Marcos would allocate the sugar output for crop year 2022 to 2023, Angeles said: “It depends on our findings. What we’re looking now is if the sugar shortage is artificial or not. Our allocation will be based on if there is a shortage.”

Authorities are also conducting inspections in Deparo, Caloocan; Balut, Tondo and San Nicolas in Manila; Rosales, Pangasinan; San Fernando, Pampanga; Ibaan, Batangas; and in Davao.

This was related to the order on the Bureau of Customs to exercise its “visitorial powers” to inspect warehouses where there are reports of hoarding.

Some operations led to discovery of “questionable” documents among warehouse owners, Cruz-Angeles said, while some were able to present legitimate documents.

BoC and Department of Trade and Industry teams earlier found 42,733 sacks of sugar in a warehouse in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, which is roughly 2,150 metric tons worth P215 million, and 7,021 metric tons of sugar from Thailand on a ship at the Subic port in Zambales.

SUSPECT SHIP. These handout photos from the Bureau of Customs show the M/V Bangpakaew, which was held by authorities at the Subic port in Zambales after it was found to be loaded with 7,021 metric tons of white refined sugar, equivalent to 140,000 bags and with a total tax payment valued at P45.6 million. BOC photos

The MV Bangpakaew was found to be loaded with 7,021 metric tons of Thailand white refined sugar, equivalent to 140,000 bags and with total tax payment valued at P45.6 million.

The Office of the Press Secretary said the BoC has submitted its report on the smuggled sugar.

Cruz-Angeles said that heads would roll at the Customs bureau if evidence shows that any of the bureau’s port personnel are in connivance with smugglers using recycled sugar import permits.

She said one warehouse in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, and another in San Fernando City, Pampanga, were not registered with the SRA.

Mr. Marcos expressed gratitude to supermarket owners who agreed to offer cheaper sugar in their groceries and stores, amid the sudden spike in sugar prices in the market, Rodriguez said.

“The President lauded the selfless response from these businessmen who are sacrificing not just their own inventory but also their projected business profits for the sake of the ordinary Filipinos at this time when the country is besieged by many problems,” Rodriguez said.

“This is a classic display of the indomitable Filipino spirit of bayanihan (teamwork) and love of country,” he added.

On Wednesday, Mr. Marcos said the government is negotiating with traders to bring down sugar prices in the country.

Rodriguez noted that SM stores have committed to sell their inventory of washed sugar at P70 per kilo, while Robinsons Supermarket has pledged to unload 1 million kilos of sugar at P70 per kilo with one kilo per pack in Metro Manila.

Puregold has also vowed to make available 2 million kilos of refined sugar at P70 per kilo, Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said the latest development will give consumers access to cheaper sugar with over 3 million kilos available in the market starting next week.

“The availability of P70 per kilo of sugar is good until supply lasts, according to the supermarket owners. The agreed selling price of P70 per kilo will likewise be monitored by the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry),” the OPS said.

To date, Savemore Market is the fastest growing format of SM Markets, serving as the umbrella brand for SM Supermarket, SM Hypermarket, and Savemore and its sister company, Alfamart.

It has over 1,500 stores composed of 206 Savemore stores, nine Savemore Express stores, 60 SM Supermarket stores, 53 SM Hypermarket stores, and 1,201 Alfamarts.

Robinsons Supermarket is a division of Robinsons Retail Holdings, Inc. and the second largest supermarket chain in the country with 274 stores nationwide.

Puregold Price Club, Inc., or simply Puregold, is a chain of supermarkets that has about 280 operating stores and over 20 food service stalls nationwide.

Rodriguez said the DTI will monitor participating retailers’ compliance with the agreed purchase limit of one kilo per consumer to prevent “possible household hoarding by some enterprising consumers” and ensure that all consumers will be able to avail of the low-priced sugar.

Rodriguez added that there was also a pledge from Victorias Milling Company (VMC) to help traders in the food manufacturing industries by making available 45,000 sacks at 50 kilos per sack of bottler-grade sugar for soft drinks companies.

“This is to avert a possible temporary halt in their operations that could result to the displacement of their workers,” he said.

“Victorias Milling also allotted 500,000 kilos of sugar for consignment in Kadiwa stores in the populated parts of the Visayas.”

VMC is an integrated raw and refined sugar firm located in Barangay XVI, Victorias City in Negros Occidental. Founded on May 7, 1919 by Don Miguel J. Ossorio, it is among the earliest modern sugar mills in the country.

Mr. Marcos earlier met with members of the Philippine Chamber of Food Manufacturers, Inc. (PCFMI) to discuss possible solutions to the country’s looming sugar shortage.

The President, who also serves as chairman of the Sugar Regulatory Administration, previously bared his plan to allow food manufacturers to directly import sugar.

Also on Friday, Senator JV Ejercito said he supports the President’s plan to reorganize the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) and rejected proposals to abolish the agency altogether.

He said there was still a need for a dedicated government agency to help sugar farmers improve their productivity.

Senator Risa Hontiveros said the SRA fiasco shows the need for a revamp of the leadership structure of the Department of Agriculture and its attached agencies, especially with the looming shortage of sugar and skyrocketing sugar prices.

She described the leadership in the DA as “deeply problematic” amid consecutive resignations of the agency’s ranking officials over the sugar importation mess.

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