By Madelaine Miraflor
The government will start implementing the suggested retail prices (SRP) on rice effective Saturday, October 27, as one of the strategies that is expected to pull down the prices of the country’s main staple food.
Starting Saturday, premium imported rice, which is currently sold for P60 per kilogram in the retail market, will be priced at no more than P43/kg, while imported well-milled rice at 25 percent will be sold at local markets at no more than P39/kg.
Locally produced premium rice will be priced not higher than P47/kg, while well-milled rice should only cost P44/kilo and while regular milled rice will be sold at no more than P39/kg.
The imposition of SRPs is aimed at protecting consumers from overpricing in the market.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the SRP will initially cover Metro Manila and nearby provinces, including cities and towns within the Greater Manila Area.
The SRP for supermarkets and the regions will be discussed by the stakeholders next week.
The SRP on rice should have been imposed starting October 23 but the Department of Agriculture (DA) decided to move it to October 27 following the request of rice industry stakeholders so they can have more time to prepare the signage in their retail outlets.
Aside from the SRP, the DA will also implement “rice retailing reforms”, which primarily involves the proper identification of rice varieties being sold in the markets.
• Premium imported, P43/kilo
• Imported well-milled, P39/kilo
• Local well-milled, P44/kilo
• Regular milled, P39/kilo
Fancy branding banned
Piñol also said that starting Saturday, rice sold in the stalls should only be identified as regular milled, well-milled, premium, and special rice.
“The use of fancy brand names like ‘Mindoro Dinorado’, ‘Senandomeng’, ‘Super Angelica’, ‘Yummy Rice’, and ‘Double Diamond’ will be banned to stop the mislabeling and deception in the marketing of rice,” the DA chief said.
All of these plans were presented Tuesday in the meeting of National Food Authority (NFA) Council, the highest policy making body of the NFA.
Upon the approval of the NFA, the government will soon publish a set of guidelines for the implementation of SRP and proper labeling, which will identify the corresponding penalties and sanctions for those who will violate it.
Penalties and sanctions would include cancellation of NFA licenses, stiff fines and criminal charges, according to Piñol.
Rice prices have started to stabilize at the start of this month, with additional imported rice coming in and more locally produced palay being harvested.
Based on the latest data available at the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) website, farmgate price of palay continues to move downward during the first week of October.
To be specific, the average farmgate price of palay went down by 2.24 percent week-on-week to P21.86/kg.
Well-milled and regular milled rice are also now being sold at lower cost both at wholesale and retail trades.
For instance, the average wholesale price of well-milled rice at P45.45/kg posted a decrease of 1.24 percent from the level a week ago, while the average price of well milled rice dropped by 0.73 percent to P49.00/kg from the previous week’s level.
The average price of regular milled rice at wholesale also exhibited a price cut of 1.20 percent week-on-week to P42.64/kg. At the same time, the average retail price of regular milled rice at P45.87/kg was lower than its previous week’s level by 0.50 percent.