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Monday, March 4, 2024

Food makers resist gov’t plea

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Just 6 of 29 manufacturers OK DTI call to defer price hikes for holidays

Food manufacturers are resisting government’s request to defer increasing the prices of their goods entering the holiday season, amid soaring prices of fuel, rice, and other raw materials.

Only six of the 29 manufacturers and industry groups who attended a meeting called by the Department of Trade and Industry Thursday night agreed to hold off any price increase, Manila Standard learned.

Trade Secretary Fred Pascual met behind closed doors with manufacturers of bottled water, canned sardines, coffee, processed milk, bread, salt, detergent, candles, condiments, bottled water, canned meat, toilet soap, and batteries.

The canned sardines group did not consent to the proposal, according to a TV report by ABS-CBN.

“There were six (manufacturers) that did agree but they (DTI) included us all (in agreeing)… the sardines (makers), we did not, we requested the DTI to study our costs and how they can control it,” said Francisco Buencamino, Executive Director of the Canned Sardines Association of the Philippines.

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While deciding to absorb the bulk of rising costs, the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI), the members of which make canned and “Noche Buena” meats, said in a statement: “In light of the DTI’s call to defer price hikes until after Dec. 31 of this year, PAMPI must reserve its stance.”

“We believe that a collective consultation with our members and a thorough evaluation of the tangible impacts of the solutions proposed by the DTI are essential,” the group added.

“We are working diligently to manage rising costs. Production costs have risen by an estimated 10 to 15 percent; most of these products will only see a modest price increase of zero to four percent,” PAMPI said.

During the dialog, manufacturers expressed their concerns about various issues, including the imposition of pass-through fees, the lack of local supply of raw materials, the compliance requirements of other government agencies, and other regulatory concerns.

“I appreciate your support, and I am happy to hear that many are willing to hold off price increases,” Pascual said.

“We have a growing middle class who can spend on premium products, but we are also mindful of the need to help consumers who survive on a dayto day basis,” he added.

Pascual assured food processors that that he would consider their plight, particularly the need to sustain their businesses and their ability to provide jobs.

“At this point in time, consumer needs are paramount,” he said.

Manufacturers, however, raised their eroding capacities and profitability concerns, as prices of major inputs for food processing have increased since 2022.

Stakeholders in the food sector have considered the government’s concern being consumers themselves, but they are worried they may not be able to hold on for long since the price increases they seek are still the same adjustments they were seeking since 2022.

While other manufacturers were given the opportunity to adjust their prices during the February update of the Suggested Retail Price (SRP) bulletin, some manufacturers were “not as lucky” as the rest, they said.

Some of the product makers that have already adjusted their SRPs during the February round are seeking another round of price increase as inflation has picked up.

The DTI monitors about 217 stock keeping units of BNPC (basic necessity and prime commodity) products listed under the SRP bulletin.

As of September 19, 14 manufacturers of 46 Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) covering ten categories of BNPCs requested SRP adjustments due to thehigh cost of major raw materials, packaging materials, fuel costs, wages, and other costs that affect the production of these essentials goods.

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