Report Highlights: 

Though a minor player in the international sugar market due to its high production costs, the Philippines is a major sugarcane producer and typically one of the largest U.S. sugar quota recipients. Trade and domestic prices are largely governed by the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), a government agency under the Philippine Department of Agriculture. According to SRA data, in Market Year (MY) 2012/13 (December-November), the average millsite price for domestic raw sugar was nearly double the world market price. MY 2012/13 raw sugar production declined slightly (less than one percent from the previous year) to 2.38 MMT, due to cane damage from Typhoon Yolanda which hit the country in November 2013. Without any substantial expansion in sugarcane production area foreseen by SRA, MY 2013/14 raw sugar production is forecast to marginally increase to 2.45 MMT, assuming favorable weather conditions. SRA anticipates a slightly higher level of production in MY 2014/15 of 2.5 MMT in response to expanding demand. According to the SRA, sugar demand in MY 2012/13 increased slightly to 2.15 MMT (from 2.13 MMT the previous year) as industrial users reacted positively to stable prices. Industry contacts expect consumption to continue rising in MY 2013/14 due to strong economic growth and a rapidly developing food processing industry. Post expects total raw sugar exports for MY 2013/14 will reach 300,000 MT, the majority of which will go to countries other than the United States, due to higher world market prices and no expected increase in the U.S. tariff rate quota.


Although SRA had initially expected 2012/13 production to reach 2.45 MMT, damage incurred by Typhoon Haiyan (which hit the country in November 2013) resulted in totals for the year only reaching 2.38 MMT (down less than one percent from the previous year).

Without any expansion in sugarcane production area foreseen by SRA, MY 2013/14 raw sugar production is forecast to reach 2.45 MMT, assuming favorable weather conditions. Based on SRA estimates, Crop Year (CY) 2013/14 (September-August) sugarcane production area dropped slightly to 422 thousand hectares (from 424 thousand hectares the previous year) and cane harvest will likely reach 24.5 MMT. Raw sugar production for CY 2014/15 is projected slightly higher.

The island of Negros continues to account for the majority (57 percent) of domestic sugar production; followed by Luzon with 14 percent; Mindanao, 19 percent; Panay, 6 percent; and Eastern Visayas, 4 percent. Roughly 90 percent of total Philippine production comes primarily from four major sugar planter federations and three major miller associations. 

According to SRA, there are about 59,600 sugarcane farmers in the country. Of these, 79 percent have landholdings less than five hectares in size and less than one percent have farms greater than 100 hectares. Being a plantation crop, farms of more than 100 hectares have an average productivity of 7.34 MT/ha, while smaller farms of less than 5 hectares have an average productivity of 5.03 MT/ha. 

While there is no formal domestic trade in sugarcane due to the unique “quedan” system (a warehouse receipt attesting to the presence of a certain amount of farmer-owned sugar in a facility) in the Philippines, industry sources report that, as of April 2014, a metric ton of sugarcane sold for about P1,650 ($37/MT at $1=P44). In comparison, Thai farmers received between 900 – 940 baht/MT (roughly $31-32/MT) in 2013. 

Industry sources expect domestic prices to rise slightly in MY 2013/14 due to increasing local demand and tighter supplies.


In the Philippines, consumption is typically measured by monitoring sugar withdrawals from the mills by traders and industrial users (as mills are the main holders of the country’s stocks). Sugar consumption in MY 2012/13 increased to 2.15 MMT (from 2.13 the previous year) as industry positively responded to stable domestic prices. Consumption is expected to increase further to 2.2 MMT 

in MY 2013/14 and to 2.25 MMT in MY 2014/15 due to expanding food processing demand and a rising population.

About 80 percent of all sugar produced in the Philippines is consumed locally. Roughly half of domestic consumption is accounted for by industrial users, 32 percent by households and the remaining 18 percent by institutions (e.g., restaurants, bakeshops, hospital etc.). 

The largest Philippine sugar export market is the United States, as prices under the U.S. tariff rate quota system are normally higher than world market prices. This trend has begun to reverse in the recent years with sugar exported to the world market now fetching a higher price. 

In MY 2012/13, the average millsite price of “A” raw sugar for the U.S. market was P713/50-kg bag and P750/50 kg-bag for “D” raw sugar for the world market. The national average mill site price for “B” raw sugar for the domestic market was P1,407/50-kg bag. The average composite price for all three was P1,292/bag.


Despite domestic prices being well above world prices most years, the Philippines typically exports an average of 250,000 tons of sugar per year as a way to support local producers. Post forecasts total raw sugar exports for MY 2013/14 will reach 300,000 MT, the majority of which will go to markets other than the United States due to higher world market prices and no expected increase in the U.S. tariff rate quota. FY 2013/14 exports to the United States under the tariff rate quota (TRQ) program are set at 142,160 MT Raw Value (136,201 MT Commercial Weight). MY 2014/15 raw sugar exports to all countries (including the United States) are forecast to remain at roughly the same levels. 

While documented refined sugar imports for MY 2013/14 are expected to reach 40,000 MT, some trade contacts estimate smuggled volume of between 50,000-70,000 MT, mostly from Thailand. 

The Philippines has long maintained high tariffs on raw and refined sugar imports, but significant changes are underway. Executive Order No. 892 will reduce tariffs under the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) from 38 percent in 2010 to five percent in 2015. This reduction in AFTA tariffs is expected to impact Philippine sugar production and trade, as other ASEAN producers, particularly Thailand, have lower production costs. 

Despite the drop in in AFTA duties, there are still multiple administrative barriers that are in place to restrict imports. However, as a result of the tariff reduction and increasing food processing demand, Post forecasts MY 2014/2015 documented (refined) sugar imports will reach 45,000 MT.

Under the Uruguay Round of the WTO, the Philippines committed to a final 10th-year Minimum Access Volume (MAV) of 64,050 MT of raw sugar, with a tariff rate of 50 percent. All importation in excess of the MAV is subject to a tariff rate of 65 percent. The tariff on sugar is among the highest of all agricultural commodities (which essentially blocks all imports under this agreement). These Most Favored Nation (MFN) tariffs have not changed since 2005.


Philippine sugar policy is generally controlled by the SRA, working closely with various influential industry stakeholders. During the start of each crop year, the SRA issues a central policy (known as Sugar Order No. 1) on production and marketing of sugar for the country, which basically allocates how much of production goes to the domestic and export markets as well as for reserves. These orders are adjusted as the season progresses. 

With the full implementation of the AFTA beginning in 2015, the Philippine DA continues to make the strengthening of the Philippine sugar industry a priority through the following key programs: 

Sugar Industry Roadmap: The Philippine Department of Agriculture aims to make the country’s sugar industry globally competitive in time for the full implementation of AFTA through programs such as the Sugar Industry Roadmap. This program will promote block farming or the operational consolidation of small farms to take advantage of plantation scale production. 

Bio-fuels Law: The Government of the Philippines’ ambitious plan for increased ethanol use has not yet met its original goal. In 2007, Republic Act 9367 (RA 9367) was signed into law which mandates the use of bio-fuels in the country. The law requires that gasoline and diesel be blended with bio-fuel at 5-10 percent and 2 percent, respectively. According to analysts, only 20-25 percent of the estimated 420 million liters of ethanol needed for the gasoline mandate (at a 10 percent blend) is currently domestically produced. Unlike biodiesel, which already has an ample domestic supply (coconut oil), most ethanol is imported from the United States, Brazil, Thailand and India to meet the mandate. 


Most sugar in the Philippines is produced and marketed under the long established “quedan” system. In this sharing arrangement, the sugarcane planter allocates a percentage of the output of his sugar to the mill in payment for the processing of the cane. As soon as the sugar is processed, the mill issues a warehouse receipt, called a quedan, to the farmer representing his share of the sugar. The warehouse receipt attests to the physical presence of the sugar in the storage facility. There are five different types of quedans: 

“A” Sugar allocated for the US market in compliance with US quota requirements; 

“B” Sugar for the domestic market; 

“B-1” Sugar for Food Processors/Exporters; 

“C” Sugar classified as reserve, which may subsequently be converted to either 

A or B as the need arises; 

“D” Sugar allocated for the world market 

SRA determines the proportion of sugar that is designated for different types of quedan. With the present volumes of production, only A & B quedans are assigned to producers. The “A” sugar is based on the volume of the quota allocated to the Philippines under the U.S. TRQ system and the estimated volume of production for the crop year. This is normally less than 10 percent of total domestic output. The rest of the output is classified as B sugar. 

Because the quedan is a negotiable instrument and the bearer may use it to withdraw sugar stocks at any time, there is a thriving secondary market in the sale of these certificates. Upon receipt of their quedans, planters usually sell them immediately to local traders who in turn sell them to larger traders. The major traders accumulate the quedans and subsequently sell them in volume to wholesalers, distributors, or processors who withdraw sugar from the mills. The processors use the sugar as an input for food and beverage processing while the wholesalers and distributors sell their sugar to major retailers. From the retailers, the sugar eventually reaches consumers through supermarkets, wet markets and sari-sari (mom-and-pop) stores