Millers assure stable supply, prices during the holiday season

Published November 20, 2022, 8:10 PM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Flour millers assured consumers, bakery and food industries of a steady supply and prices of high-quality wheat flour for the holiday season, although higher prices for new wheat arrivals may kick in.

Philippine Association of Flour Miller’s (PAFMIL) Executive Director Ric Pinca made the supply side assurance over the weekend, stating “Our wheat vessels are arriving according to schedule and we see no logistical disruptions in the horizon.”

Pinca, who attended the US Wheat Associates 60th Anniversary in the Philippines on Friday, Nov. 18, said that based on presentations at the event, major wheat suppliers US and Canada have just completed their spring wheat harvest while Australia is also expecting to have a productive harvest season. China holds 50 percent of world wheat stocks, but is not exporting, he said.

Although the world wheat supply still remains tight due to the Russian Ukraine war, Pinca said that the free flow of grains from usual sources US, Canada and Australia has enabled local millers to “amass an inventory sufficient to meet our holiday requirements and beyond.”

In terms of prices, Pinca said there is “no movement yet” but added that higher levels could kick in when new wheat purchases with higher prices arrive.

Lucito Chavez, president of the Asosasyon ng Panaderong Pilipino, said flour prices have been stable at P1,100 to P1,150 per 25-kilogram bag for the past few months.

But Chavez said that community bakers no longer have standard pricing for their basic breads such as “pandesal”. “It is a game of chance otherwise we have to shutdown operation,” said Chavez.

He explained that although flour prices and other ingredients have stopped rising for now, the prices were stuck at the high level with no indication of going down.

Another issue for community bakers is the fact that their pandesal are more expensive than the “Pinoy Pandesal” being produced and sold by the big bakers.

Pinoy Pandesal is being sold at P23.50 for every pack of 10 pieces at 250 grams or P2.35 per piece. But community bakers are selling their pandesal at P2.50 for 18-20 grams per piece.

“Community bakers are not just losing customers to Pinoy Pandesal, but customers think we are shortchanging them and that is destroying our image in the community,” he stressed.

Hence, Chavez is urging the Department of Trade and Industry to adjust upward the prices of Pinoy Pandesal or explain to consumers that Pinoy Pandesal is cheaper because it is part of the corporate social responsibility program of the big bakers.