Sugar farmers to talk with Coke PH’s new owners for supply agreement
MANILA — The Confederation of Sugar Producers (CONFED), the biggest sugar group in the Philippines, will discuss with representatives of Coca-Cola Philippines’ parent firm how local planters could fill the sugar requirements of the softdrinks giant in the country.
CONFED national president Francis de la Rama disclosed Monday that Coke had indicated that its parent firm, Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co., is ready to send a technical working group to sit down with sugar producers on how best they could resolve the sugar supply need of the beverage company.
“We are ready to get down on it as soon as possible,” De la Rama said.
Recently, at the 65th Annual National Philsutech Convention in Cebu City, Senator Cynthia Villar dialogued with sugar producers to come up with measures to abate rising prices of sugar without resorting to more importation.
This, De la Rama noted, is one challenge the Philippine sugar producers are willing to discuss with Coke, which is still one the big buyers of sugar in the country.
He said they would want to talk on what local surgar producers could do to ensure ample supply at reasonable prices for the food and beverage industry.
He added the sugar milling season will start as early as end of August this crop year, so that they could address the perceived sugar scarcity in the market.
CONFED and state agency Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) have welcomed the recent reacquisition of Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. of its popular softdrinks firm in the country.
The Atlanta-based firm is again taking over full control of its Philippine unit after Mexican bottling giant Coca-Cola FEMSA sold back its 51-percent stake in Coca-Cola Philippines.
SRA Board member Dino Yulo said he is “hoping that this will auger well for the industry.”
“We are ready to work together” with Coke Atlanta, he said, though adding, “This will be guarded optimism.”
“We hope there will be more transparency and collaboration between Coke and the sugar industry,” De la Rama also said. “We are very happy with this development.”
De la Rama commended Winn Everhart, President and General Manager of the Philippines for Coca Cola Co., for the move.
“This will definitely mend the rift between the sugar producers and Coke under FEMSA,” De la Rama said.
He added that a month ago, Everhart had already told them that “he will fix the problem,” and though there were initial skepticism, he said, “With this, I personally feel that we can sit down and work together in the future.” (PNA)