FOLLOWING the ban of Coca-Cola products in Negros Occidental, sugar leaders launched Monday, June 19, the call to boycott beverages sold by Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines Inc.
In a press conference at Resorts Negrense in Bacolod City, industry leaders said the softdrinks manufacturer is the second biggest importer of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) next to rival Coke.
The unabated importation of HFCS as alternative sweetener has led to the massive drop of sugar prices, they reiterated.
Manuel Lamata, president of United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines, said, “Tapos na ang Coke, ari ang sunod (We’re done with Coke, this is next,” pointing to the can of Pepsi he was holding.
“Ari naman birahon ta. Kay indi ni sila inosente. Mga tonto ni. HFCS man ni unod (We’ll attack them. They’re not innocent. They’re sly. This contains HFCS, too),” he added.
Lamata said they are hoping to meet with the management of Pepsi once the news of the boycott comes out.
He said that all they need from Pepsi is to buy local sugar.
“If they don’t agree, we will target them. We’re launching a boycott of Pepsi products if they don’t adhere the request of the Sugar Alliance,” Lamata said.
He added that they will request Pepsi not to be deceitful and fulfill its plan to buy local sugar.
“They have to partner with the sugar industry. We’re one nation, they’re giving work to the Chinese. It’s not right. Filipino first,” he said.
Lamata said they may also launch a protest action against Pepsi like what they did with Coke early this year, where thousands held a demonstration outside the Coke bottling plant in Bacolod City.
“If they don’t sit down and talk to the Alliance, yes (will launch a protest action). (But) I don’t know whose head we’re going to burn this time,” Lamata said.
He explained they first targeted Coke before Pepsi as it’s hard to take on two giants at the same time.
For his part, Enrique Rojas, president of National Federation of Sugarcane Planters, said their fight against HFCS is not done yet.
He said they will wait for the reaction of the Pepsi management, noting that “there should be an agreement on how much fructose to come in.”
More local sugar
Meanwhile, Francis de la Rama, president of Confederation of Sugar Producers Association Inc., said that Coke has committed to buy two million 50-kilobags of local sugar for the next crop year, adding that they are gradually withdrawing their HFCS imports.
He also said that Secretary Paulyn Ubial informed them the Department of Health is still conducting a study on the health hazards of HFCS.
Moreover, Lamata said they are in favor of the proposed P20 per liter excise tax on HFCS, but not on the P10 per liter excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages.
“We have a problem with the excise tax on sugar sweetened drinks. We want to lower it down to P5 per liter so it would be affordable to everyone and the government can also get revenues for operations,” he said.
He said they are also seeking a “stable” P1,600 composite price of sugar, adding that the current composite price is only P1,400.