A CONSUMER group has asked the government agencies to get the most out of a two-year low on the world food index as announced by the United Nations (UN), an official said on Sunday.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN earlier has revealed that the world food price index, tracking the most internationally-traded food products, fell from April’s 127.7 to May’s 124.3 points, marking the lowest since April 2021.
“This two-year record low is happening even as the global price for sugar, rice, and meat is increasing. It is because of an apparent decline in prices of vegetable oils and dairy products,” Bantay Palengke Convenor Lester Codog said in a statement.
“We suggest that our government [Department of Agriculture] and the [Department of Trade and Industry] do everything to take advantage of this situation to provide relief to our fellow Filipinos who are still suffering from high local food prices,” he said.
Data from FAO indicated that the vegetable price index decreased by about 9 percent while world dairy prices slid over 3 percent.
It was noted that world vegetable oil prices eased because of an increased supply of oilseed in the midst of low demand for palm oil, while the global dairy price index is reflecting the seasonal upsurge of milk output in the northern hemisphere.
“We know for a fact that our country imports cooking oil and milk as our local production cannot catch up with consumer demand. We should look for ways to benefit from this global slump in the prices of food products that Filipinos consume on a daily basis,” the convenor said.
“If we cannot do it for rice, sugar and meat for now, at least we can help them balance their household food budget by making affordable cooking oil and dairy products available,” Codog added.
On June 2, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) took effect, but Alaska Milk Corp. (AMC) is not asking for a price increase in its milk products to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and true to its mission of providing affordable nutrition for every Filipino home.
Tarang Gupta, AMC managing director, said that their company is striking a sort of balance on the nutrition needed by Filipinos against the present inflationary headwinds happening in the country.
“We are seeing the consumption going up again and that’s driven by affordability and that is driving the growth. At this stage, we are not submitting any petition to the DTI, although there will always be a need [in the coming years],” he said.
“At Alaska, if we want to live with our purpose of nourishing Filipinos, then we have to keep a balance,” Gupta said during the World Milk Day celebration.
And with the RCEP Agreement taking effect, the major trade bloc agreement is not seen to impact the milk industry.
“Local production of milk is always a factor of scale,” he explained, noting that “the scale here is so small compared to other countries, for example, Thailand which is 35 percent.”
Gupta said that with Alaska, “we are very clear that we will support the local farmers and help them increase the quality and quantity and I think we can do it within five years.”
Without RCEP, the current tariff on milk is at 3 percent, with concentrated milk at 0 to 1 percent, while with RCEP, milk will be zero tariffs until the 20th year of the implementation of the RCEP.
RCEP offers opportunities in trade and investment for the Philippines, especially in deepening economic integration among the 15 RCEP members and bringing healthy competition to industries in the country.
A study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies estimated that the Philippines’s GDP (gross domestic product) would increase by 2.02 percent through its participation in RCEP.