Leading supermarkets agree to cut sugar prices — Palace

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 19)— Major supermarkets have agreed to lower retail prices of sugar to ₱70 per kilo, Malacañang announced on Friday.

In a media briefing, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles confirmed that select retailers heeded the call to adjust their sugar costs—which went as high as ₱110 per kilo—to help ease consumers' burden.

"Robinsons Supermarket ay nangako na magbenta ng 1 million kilos at 70 per kilo. Nangako naman ang SM Supermarket na ibebenta ang kanilang inventory ng asukal. Samantalang nangako din ang Puregold na ibababa nila ang presyo ng asukal for 1 million kilos at 70 per kilo," Cruz-Angeles said.

[Translation: Robinsons Supermarket promised to sell one million kilos at 70 per kilo. SM Supermarket also promised to sell its inventory of sugar. Meanwhile, Puregold also committed to lower sugar prices for 1 million kilos at 70 per kilo.]

S&R Membership Shopping was not included in the list as it is a wholesaler, she added. The cheaper sugar will be available "until supplies last," according to the supermarket owners.

Pressed further about the companies' decision, Cruz-Angeles bared it was a product of a "request" from the government.

"Napakiusapan lang po sila [n]a bilang tulong na lang sa ordinaryong consumer na pababaan kahit pansamantala ang kanilang mga presyo until ma-resolba natin o maitawid natin hanggang itong Setyembre or sa harvest season na baka naman maipababa na natin by that time ang presyo ng asukal," the secretary said.

[Translation: They were just asked to help ordinary consumers, that maybe they can temporarily lower prices until we can resolve or reach September for harvest season, when we can possibly lower the prices of sugar.]

Artificial sugar shortage?

As concerns over sugar supply and prices mount, Cruz-Angeles vowed the government is taking steps.

She said inspections on sugar warehouses will continue—as officials try to determine whether the shortage is "artificial."

"Whether or not it is artificial will depend on the evidence produced by these warehouse operations," Cruz-Angeles added.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Exchange, Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food president Danilo Fausto said there may indeed be an "artificial shortage."

"A lot of people are making money by just putting it in the warehouse, they did not even participate in the production and these traders will just be benefitting from the hardship that is being done by the farmers," he said.

Fausto added that hoarders should be punished for "economic sabotage."

"Profit is a function of business but profiting too much, I think, is unacceptable. You can just profit at a certain manageable level but to really deprive people of your greed for profit, deprived people of food, I think that should be punished. This is economic sabotage for us," he stressed.