Food Summit and affordable prices

Published May 29, 2021, 6:00 AM

by Atty. Vic Dimagiba

As a consumer advocacy group, Laban Konsyumer Inc. is constantly looking for ways to ensure and protect the welfare of the everyday Filipino consumer. During this time of the pandemic, we believe that one of, if not the most important matter to protect, is food and sustenance of the families, especially those encountering challenges to make ends meet because of the limitations and restrictions of the quarantine, lockdown and pandemic.  The recent National Food Security Summit is a crucial undertaking for the stakeholders involved, and is one of the reasons why our group has openly supported the various measures to fight for the consumers’ rights in terms of food access, security and affordable prices.

What I always advocate is that food, especially now during the pandemic, should be made affordable, safe, available and nutritious. This will be the main protection that our Filipino consumers will have against the virus, as their bodies will need to remain strong, and protected all throughout the day. The Philippine Food System is practically the backbone of our war against the COVID-19 crisis, because everybody, from frontliners to government officials, to everyday minimum wage workers depend on the correct and accessible food which will provide enough nutrients at the right price, affordable and available to all.

That is the reason why in the Food Summit, we made it very clear that one of our advocacies  is the consumers access to basic necessities like food and we supported the Food Summit agenda and objectives on food security.

The graph below was presented in the Summit. It is an extended and detailed presentation of the food value or supply chain.

Laban Konsyumer emphasized that “Food security and access by the Filipino consumers must be necessarily related to stable supply and reasonable prices at all times, whether in normal times, calamities and other emergencies.”

Now this is where the matter at hand becomes very urgent and relevant to the larger population within the Philippines, and this is all about the cost and prices of food, leading to its availability and accessibility.

In the matter of prices, we  submitted an unsolicited paper to the Summit that the implementing agencies on food security institutionalize the strategy of adopting what we call the FISHBONE ANALYSIS in the determination of the general parameters and cost components of the reasonable prices in the entire value or supply chain of basic necessities and prime commodities. The paper was acknowledged “received “by the Undersecretary for Consumer Affairs of the Department of Agriculture.

The formula shall include costs of raw materials whether local or imported, feeds and fertilizers, packaging, power and utilities, transportation and distribution, operating expenses and administrative overhead, inflation, labor, taxes and duties. Raw materials shall account for at least 50% – 70 %, packaging at 25% and between 5 to 10 % for all the other items of the costs of the supply chain plus the margin of business.

The FISHBONE ANALYSIS is an evolving tool that prepares the implementing agencies and business in ensuring that food security must at all times result to access by consumers at reasonable prices, whether in normal times, calamities or emergencies. We hope that this can be used also by the government agencies in being able to plan out and implement programs that will make good more accessible and cheaper for the masses.

 We noted that prices were not in the agenda of the 2-daySummit, but we took the initiative of submitting this position paper for the consideration of the stakeholders. We truly hope that our messages are read and concerns addressed accordingly. We had   bad action taken at the height of the spike in prices of meat products. Everyone in the system was panicking and could not agree on what are the affordable prices at which meat products should reach the food table of the consumers There were a lot of numbers being thrown about; there were many aspiring lead actors and no one noticed that there should also be  supporting actors. So, a coherent movie could not be filmed. Even Congress had its own computations. With a ready and available Fishbone Analysis Formula, the consumers could have seen reasonable and affordable prices during period of the state of calamity.

In conclusion, I would like to remind my readers that while truly ,it is one major priority to make food readily available, it is also more important to make it accessible to all and at reasonable prices. The value and quality of food will be totally lost if it does not reach those who need it the most in this  period of state of calamity .

Atty. Vic Dimagiba, AB, LLB, LLM

President, Laban Konsyumer Inc.

Email at [email protected]