MANILA (REUTERS) – Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said on Wednesday he was negotiating with the local sugar industry to reduce retail prices of the sweetener by as much as 40 per cent to ease the burden on consumers amid soaring inflation.

Prices of refined sugar in the Philippines have almost doubled this year to 100-115 pesos (S$2.50-S$2.85) per kg, contributing to overall inflation which hit a four-year high last month.

A drop in domestic sugar production due to unfavourable weather and delays in imports have squeezed supplies, the industry regulator said in June.

“We’re negotiating now with the traders. They first offered at 80 pesos (per kilogram), but I said I’d like to request for 70 pesos. And we’re getting there,” Mr Marcos told reporters on Wednesday.

Mr Marcos earlier said the Philippines may import up to 150,000 tonnes of sugar later this year to boost supply and ease pressure on prices. It usually buys sugar from Thailand, the world’s second-largest exporter behind Brazil.

The Philippine Sugar Millers Association, which has expressed support for additional sugar imports to bring down prices, did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment on Mr Marcos’ call for a reduction in prices.