SUGAR PLANTERS said farmgate prices remain weaker-than-expected and out of line with the relative strength of retail prices.

In a statement, the Sugar Council, which includes three planter federations, said farmgate prices last week ranged from P2,501 to P2,760 per bag, below the regulator’s target price of P3,000.

The council is composed of the Confederation of Sugar Producers Associations, Inc., the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters, Inc., and the Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers, Inc.

Before the milling season started, the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) had projected a farmgate prices for sugar of P3,000 per 50-kilo bag.

The council said a farmgate price of P2,760 per 50-kilogram bag translates to about P55.2 per kilo at retail.

“But in reality, actual retail price of sugar continues to hover between P80 to P100 per kilo. This leads the Sugar Council to wonder why the farmgate price is low,” the council said.

“This also proves that sugar farmers are not (behind the) high retail prices,” it added.

The SRA has said that it is looking into possible price manipulation due to “abnormalities” in pricing at the mill, trader, and importer level.

“We strongly support the SRA’s move to investigate why sugar prices have been lower than P3,000 per 50-kilo bag … We look forward to a comprehensive and expeditious probe, and we eagerly await its results,” the council said.

SRA Administrator Pablo Luis S. Azcona has described trading as abnormal, with prices fluctuating by P100 or more on a weekly basis. An oversupply of sugar has been blamed for easing farmgate prices.

The SRA delayed the release of 150,000 metric tons of imported sugar via Resolution No. 2023-159, to ensure fairer prices for farmers during milling season.

It added that it will hold on to the reserve sugar in order to build up a two-month buffer stock. — Adrian H. Halili