Study underway on whether to raise the cost of sugar

Sweet talks: Sugar industry players are engaging the government to review the ceiling price of sugar amid rising raw material and freights costs. — FAIHAN GHANI/The Star

PETALING JAYA: A study is underway on whether to raise the ceiling price of sugar.

Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry secretary-general Datuk Azman Mohd Yusof said a report was expected to be tabled in the Cabinet after consultation with various stakeholders within the year.

“The decision on whether or not to raise the price of sugar will be made by the Cabinet,” he said when contacted.

Currently, the domestic wholesale refined sugar price is capped at RM2.69 per kg.

Sugar industry players including MSM Malaysia Holdings Bhd have urged the government to review the ceiling price of sugar amid rising raw material and freight costs.

On June 8, MSM group chief executive officer Syed Feizal Syed Mohammad was quoted as saying that the commodity had seen only a net increase of one sen per kg since 2011.

Ministry enforcement director Azman Adam said sugar producers had requested the government to raise the ceiling price.

“The government has yet to decide,” he said.

Consumers Association of Penang president Mohideen Abdul Kader said the government must ensure that the proposed sugar price increase was reasonable to eliminate profiteering.

“Any suggestion for sugar subsidy must not be entertained,” he added.

He urged the government to also consider increasing the sugar tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSB) introduced in 2019.

This would be further reason for the people to cut sugar intake, he said.

“We advice consumers to reduce their sugar intake, eat more home-cooked nutritious food, and wherever possible, try to grow your own vegetables,” he added.

Consumers, he said, should refrain from drinking sugary drinks or food that was detrimental to health as statistics in 2019 showed that there were 3.9 million diabetic Malaysians.

Nutrition Society of Malaysia president Dr Tee E Siong said it was only through a holistic healthy diet approach – which includes the concept of balance, moderation and variety – that Malaysians could lead healthier lives.

“Consumers should be aware of the undesirable effects of consuming food and beverages with excessive amounts of sugar. Such self-awareness should prompt them to use less sugar in their food and beverages, instead of having to rely on price increases to dictate their consumption,” he said when contacted.

While sugar per se does not cause diabetes, Dr Tee said excessive sugar intake was undesirable as it would add on calories to a person’s diet and not contribute any nutrients.

“Long-term overconsumption of calories will add on to our body weight.

“This in turn increases the risk of several diet-related chronic diseases like diabetes, coronary heart disease and cancer,” he said.

Sugar is a controlled item under the Control of Supplies Act 1961.

Sugar consumption per capita reached 42.4 kg in 2019 in Malaysia, according to statistics of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

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