Prices of basic necessities and prime commodities will increase by 3 to 5 percent or P0.75 centavos to P1 per can of sardines and canned meats, a situation that will likely worsen the country’s already elevated inflation level.
In a television interview, DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said the price increases in basic goods, which will be issued via the new suggested retail prices (SRPs), will be the first adjustment in two years or since the last SRP was issued on September 30, 2019.
The new SRP will be published prior to their effectivity, said Lopez. DTI Undersecretary for Consumer Welfare and Protection Ruth Castelo said they are still finalizing the new SRP.
Lopez justified the upcoming price hikes based on their studies that showed increases in inputs to production such as raw materials and packaging.
For instance, he said, the DTI study showed that tin can prices increased by 60 percent while PET bottle prices went up by 37 percent.
For canned sardines, he said that price of herrings used in sardines went up by 14 percent.
On processed meat, the DTI study showed that meat used for corned beef already went up by 20 percent, while mechanically deboned meat also increased up to 87 percent. In addition, wheat prices for noodles rose by 56 percent.
Despite the increase in cost to production, he said, the prices of the basic goods have not gone up in two years.
But this time, the trade chief emphasized “It cannot be helped anymore” as companies are already complaining. Thus, DTI approved the price adjustment of 3-5 percent based on their 2019 SRP price
Local consumer advocacy group Laban Konsyumer Inc. (LKI) said the timing is so bad because there is still the threat of the pandemic, especially with the Delta variant that has already come into the country.
LKI President Victorio Mario Dimagiba also questioned the use of the 2019 data. He urged that DTI use year to date data to consider offsetting raw materials and the peso-dollar exchange rate.
Dimagiba was worried of the price hikes as this will further worsen the country’s inflation level, which is expected to average 4.2 percent this year.
He pointed out that the 3-5 percent price increase in prices of basic necessities and prime commodities may appear negligible, but when look at the real value of P1 per canned good it is already worrisome for household budgets.
Dimagiba said that other product manufacturers are also asking DTI to raise their prices and perhaps widen the list of the SRP coverage. At present, the SRP list of basic necessities and prime commodities includes canned sardines, processed and condensed milk (evaporated, condensed, powdered), coffee refill, instant noodles, salt (iodized and rock), detergent soap/laundry soap, bottled water (distilled, purified, mineral), candles, luncheon meat, corned beef, beef loaf, meat loaf, vinegar, fish sauce, soy sauce, toilet soap, and batteries.
Dimagiba, who earlier advocated for pork holiday due to high prices, has urged supermarkets not to accept products that have adjusted their prices higher.
But Steven Cua, who heads the Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association, said they cannot just bar producers from displaying products in their stores because they have higher prices.
The upcoming new SRP also comes after the lifting of the price freeze under Proclamation No. 1143 that placed prices of basic necessities under automatic price control or automatically frozen at their prevailing prices due to the outbreak of African Swine Fever. The price freeze lasted sixty days, beginning 10 May 2021 and ending on 9 July 2021.