December 12, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Coca-Cola FEMSA withdraws petition vs sugar order

COCA-COLA FEMSA Philippines withdrew a petition seeking to invalidate tighter regulation on the entry of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in the country, the use of which by industrial users allegedly dampened sugarcane demand.

In a statement, Coca-Cola FEMSA said it unilaterally withdrew on Tuesday the petition for declaration of nullity with prayer for preliminary injunction filed at the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City on March 3 “in the interest of finding an equitable resolution to the HFCS importation issue.”

“We believe that engaging in dialogue is key to finding a win-win solution to address the needs of all sectors,” Juan Lorenzo Tañada, legal and corporate affairs director at Coca-Cola FEMSA Philippines, was quoted in the statement as saying.

“We hope that by continuously working with the government, the local sugar industry, and other stakeholders, this represents not only the organization’s long-standing endeavor to take part in Philippine nation-building but, more importantly, our desire to continue fulfilling our role as a key partner in the country’s economic development.”

The company had said the “misunderstanding” on the HFCS importation issue has affected its relationship with the sugar industry.

Adel Tamano, vice-president for public affairs and communications of Coca-Cola Philippines, said the beverage firms looks forward to the immediate convening of the Sugar National Council -- to be composed of sugar industry stakeholders and sugar-associated industries -- which will ensure that policies and issues relating to sugar are properly addressed.

The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) came out in February with Sugar Order No. 3 that restricted imports of HFCS and other fructose-based chemicals into the Philippines.

The order was in response to concerns raised by sugarcane farmers over HFCS shipped to the Philippines last year, identifying this as the main cause of softening sugar prices. This translated to potential revenue losses of about P20 billion for the current crop year.

HFCS accounts for 90% of Coca-Cola FEMSA’s sweetener requirement, with the remainder set aside for cane sugar. -- Krista Angela M. Montealegre