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Philippine Sugar Millers Association rejects proposal to import molasses for bioethanol production

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Local sugar millers are opposing the proposal of certain quarters to allow more imports of molasses, arguing that domestic production, which has been on an “upswing,” is more than enough to meet demand for the bioethanol ingredient that remains tepid.

The Philippine Sugar Millers Association Inc. (PSMA) on Tuesday said the country has sufficient molasses supply, which continues to build up, to meet domestic bioethanol production requirements.

“There is no  reason to import molasses for bioethanol. Local molasses production is on the  upswing, and our demand has been soft and slow,” PSMA Executive Director Jesus L. Barrera said in a statement.

“Molasses inventories are building up that there has been an overflow in molasses tanks in some mills in recent months,” Barrera added.

The PSMA made the statement after a local news outfit reported that a certain group is lobbying that the government allow more imported stocks of molasses for bioethanol production due to a shortage in the local molasses supply.

Barrera argued that the country’s molasses stocks have been higher compared to previous crop year’s level.

Citing Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) data, Barrera said as of January 29, the country’s molasses output was at 471,046.18 metric tons (MT), 3.38 percent higher from last season.

Meanwhile, molasses demand has been down by 17 percent on an annual basis to 349,509 MT, Barrera added. Given the supply situation, Barrera noted that the country has a standing molasses inventory of 262,893 MT, which continues to increase to date.

“We have sufficient supply. There is no national emergency or shortage of molasses. We do not need to import more molasses specifically for bioethanol production,” he said.

The PSMA noted that last year the country imported 608,310 MT of molasses for potable alcohol and animal feeds, up by 80 percent from 2021 level. Last month alone, the country imported 88,702 MT of molasses, about 80 percent higher than the 49,145 MT recorded import volume in January 2022, the group added.

Molasses is a by-product of sugar refining that serves as a raw material for bioethanol production.

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