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Food manufacturers seek DTI price-hike OK

THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it has received price-increase requests from canned goods, milk, coffee, and bread manufacturers.

“We have petitions for canned meat, for instance. For canned meat, note that that’s a prime commodity so in case of a price freeze, they are not included because they are prime but we have petitions for canned sardines, for milk, coffee, and bread, which [are] of course part of our basic necessities,” DTI-Consumer Protection Group

Assistant Secretary Ann Claire Cabochan said in a televised interview on Monday.

Cabochan said the Trade department is coordinating with the manufacturers of these products.

“We have a pending application for price increases and our message has always been that we are in active coordination with the manufacturers of these products and we are studying these petitions very carefully,” said the Trade official.

Last week, Jerome Ong, Vice President of Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (Pampi) said in a televised interview they are requesting for a price increase that ranges from P1.50 to P2 per canned meat.

“We understand that everyone’s having a hard time right now. We are ready to make the sacrifice and ask for a smaller price increase compared to what we really need. The price increase that we need is P3 to P4 per can. But since we are also backing the DTI and the government’s goal of selling canned meat at cheaper prices in order to help consumers, our request only ranges from P1.50 to P2 per can,” Ong said on Thursday.

The Pampi official claimed that some members of their group are bearing the brunt of surging production costs, and some have aresorted to cutting down operations.

“We do have some members who used to operate six days a week, but now operate three to four times a week either because their materials are not enough or sales is bad because of the higher production cost,” that is reflected in the pricing, Ong had explained in a televised interview on Thursday.

However, Cabochan dismissed the group’s arguments. Speaking partly in Filipino, he pointed out that,  “As it is, government as already reduced tariff temporarily to avoid cost of production from rising further. So for as long as that remains manageable, we do not see [any basis for] any adjustments based on the prices of [mechanically deboned meat] MDM.” Cabochan added that perhaps, “there are other factors of production we can also look into.”

At the public hearing before the Tariff Commission last Thursday, Pampi proposed to extend the 5-percent tariff on mechanically deboned meat of chicken and turkey from 2023 until 2025.

Representing Pampi, Ong cited keeping the national economy afloat and helping temper food inflation among the reasons behind the local meat processors’ petition to extend the lower tariff rates on chicken and turkey MDMs.

Bread makers

Meanwhile, in relation to price-increase requests by manufacturers of bread, Philippine Baking Industry Group (PhilBaking) President Jerry Lao said two weeks ago that some of their members have cut down production because of the increase in price of flour.

“But as members, we still have to produce the Pinoy Tasty for the consumer but the problem is now,” Pinoy Tasty gets gobbled up quickly from shelves. “So in order for our members to continue producing Pinoy Tasty and help them with the cost of the flour, DTI will come in here to help us. So we’re asking for a P4-peso, very minimal increase,” Lao said.

The PhilBaking president said the industry’s price-increase request has been delayed for “six months already” because, he said, they wanted to help consumers stretch their purchasing power. Lao said, however, the industry can no longer hold on with the effect of the price increase in sugar and fuel.

According to the Suggested Retail Price (SRP) bulletin published August 12, Pinoy Tasty currently sells at P38.50 per 450 gram pack while Pinoy Pandesal costs P23.50 for a pack of 10 pieces.

Sardines

Meanwhile, Canned Sardines Association of the Philippines (CSAP) Executive Director Francisco Buencamino said last week the petition to increase the SRP for canned sardine by P3 was filed by CSAP in July, months before the group warned of a “looming” raw material shortage in the latter part of the year.

Buencamino stressed, “The P3 [proposed increase] is a very small portion of the finished canned prices. That is very small despite the fact that we have maintained our prices for two years now.”

The prevailing price for a 155-gram canned sardines in tomato sauce, based on the government’s SRP as of August 12, ranges from a low of P13.25 to a high of P19.58.

CSAP explained last week that their petition to increase canned sardines prices was driven by rising cost of materials like imported tin cans and tomato paste, as well as fuel due to the weakening of the peso and the consequences of the Ukraine-Russia war. (Full story: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2022/10/25/sardine-canners-stay-put-on-%E2%82%A73-price-hike/)

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