SUGAR prices have risen between 40% and 42% since the start of June, an association of supermarkets said, forcing consumers to modify their shopping behavior by buying smaller quantities at a time or switching to brown sugar.

Steven T. Cua, Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association president, told BusinessWorld Live on One News on Monday: “I was surprised when I checked (and) found out that (the price of refined sugar was) P100, P105, P108 per kilogram (/kg)… I checked again when the price of sugar started to climb. As of June 1, it (was) around P72.50/kg… So that’s around a 40%-42% increase in two months. A very steep price for one commodity that everyone uses every day.”

“I noticed that people have been buying smaller and smaller packs of sugar. Supermarkets that did not carry these items before are now carrying 1/4 kg of sugar because people are looking for that. People are also shifting, especially in the countryside, to brown sugar (which prices) did not increase as much,” Mr. Cua said.  

Mr. Cua called for a long-term plan to address the sugar supply problem.

“We really have to fix this (issue) for the long term, beyond a six-year term of any administration. It has to be continuous for food security purposes and for the economy,” Mr. Cua said.

“If you’re going to flood the market with a supply of sugar (imports), definitely prices will go down but again that’s a quick fix,” he added.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has announced that it is verifying the overall supply of sugar on hand and expected to be milled and is considering increasing the volume of sugar classified for consumer use.

It is also consulting the industry on the appropriate volume of sugar to be imported if necessary.

The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) has said that it is recommending the import of 300,000 metric tons of sugar. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave