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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

DTI to deny pleas to raise food prices

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Prices of food products are not going to move anytime soon, the Department of Trade and Industry assured consumers Wednesday.

Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual said the department is not inclined to approve petitions for price adjustments by food manufacturers until a thorough assessment is done.

Last week, some 13 food processors and manufacturers submitted petitions for price increases on 43 stock-keeping units (SKUs).

The petitions covered canned sardines, canned meat, coffee, instant noodles, three variants of milk, and toilet soaps.

“The decision is to put on hold the requested price hikes of manufacturers,” Pascual said.

“For now we are monitoring the price movements of important inputs. If we detect that there is a basis, we will sit down again and decide which requests for price adjustments we will consider,” he added.

The government continues to monitor the prices of basic necessities and prime commodities included in the Suggested Retail Price Bulletin to determine if retailers are complying with the suggested pricing of goods, he said.

Meanwhile, Pascual said the DTI wants to put up food terminals around Metro Manila and directly link farmers to supermarket chains in a bid to bring down the prices of agricultural commodities.

He said the DTI has a three-year action plan for agro-food logistics “meant to address bottlenecks in the supply chain.”

“Traders are the ones making money at the expense of farmers… they earn very little, and at the expense of consumers who pay very high prices,” Pascual said.

“We are trying to link them [supermarket chains] directly with our farmers,” he added.

The Consumer Protection Group of the DTI said price adjustments range from P0.10 to P7.27 or about one- to five-percent increase for food items.

Petitions for non-food items, on the other hand, covered increases ranging from six to 20 percent or about P1.50 to P9.75 per SKU.

Manufacturers have complained of rising costs of imported raw materials such as skimmed milk for milk products, imported soft flour for noodles, mechanically deboned meat (MDM) for canned meat products, and iodine and potassium for iodized salt.

CPG reminded retailers and consumers the February 2023 SRP Bulletin will remain in place unless another bulletin is issued by the DTI.

Under the Price Act, violators face imprisonment of five to 15 years with a fine of not less than P5,000 to P2 million.

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