By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez on Monday said that suggested retail prices (SRPs) of Noche Buena products have been adjusted by as much as 11 percent as cost of raw materials have also increased by as much as 40 percent.
The list includes products such as ham, fruit cocktail, cheese, sandwich spread, mayonnaise, queso de bola, spaghetti, macaroni, spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, and creamer. Lopez said some brands increased their prices by 2 to 11 percent.
“This is in consideration of the 30- to 40-percent increases in cost of some materials,” Lopez said.
Depending on the brand and the weight, the price of ham ranges from P135 to P1,025. For fruit cocktail, prices range from P50.35 to P239.40; P49.50 to P269.50 for cheese; P21.05 to P205.80 for sandwich spread; P28 to P283 for mayonnaise; P169 to P539 for keso de bola; P19 to 92 for spaghetti; P18.75 to P98.65 for macaroni; P22 to P84.20 for spaghetti sauce; P12.25 to P78.25 for tomato sauce; and P52 to P75 for creamer.
Lopez said the new SRP would be the last for the year. He also clarified that noche buena products not under price control.
“They are also not part of basic products and prime commodities. Companies are the ones issuing SRPs,” he stressed. “DTI’s role is to ensure they don't overpriced, by reviewing cost increases, and convincing companies not to pass entire cost increases to price of finished products.”
However, Laban Konsyumer Inc., the country’s leading consumer advocacy group, has maintained that DTI should rollback the SRP of Noche Buena products in light of the continued decline in the country’s inflation level.
LKI President Victoriano Mario Dimagiba pointed out that annual rate of inflation for the food index fell by 1.3 percent last month and was reported at .3 percent in August this year.
“Given these positive numbers, the DTI should not preempt issuing public statements that there will be increase in the SRP of Noche Buena products,” said Dimagiba, a former DTI Undersecretary for consumer welfare turned consumer advocate.
The LKI President said that DTI should instead focus on studying how much it should pass on to the consumers the positive inflation in terms of lowering SRP. The outlook for inflation for the balance 3 months remain very low.
Dimagiba added that the raw materials of the products had remained stable and we have relatively lower electricity and diesel prices the past 3 to 5 months. Pasta and bread should remain unchanged if not lower as wheat had remained low this year.
LKI also urged the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. not to increase prices of processed ham ranging from the basic 500 grams to the 1 kg Chinese sweet ham as consumers continue to reel from fear of the risk to health of contaminated ASF pork.
Noche Buena products are food items purchased by Filipinos for their Christmas Eve celebrations.