THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it is currently evaluating applications from food companies to increase the prices of items normally served for the Christmas feast, known in the Philippines as noche buena.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said at a briefing Monday that applications to raise prices range from less than 1% to 3%. Noche buena items include spaghetti, ham, and cheese.

The DTI’s consumer protection group is studying the applications to determine whether the increases are reasonable, he said. If the increases are not considered reasonable, the applicants may be granted a smaller increase.

“Every year there are brands that request for price adjustments to cover increases in costs,” he said. “Out of over 20 brands, usually there are just about five brands that are requesting price increases.”

He advises consumers to select “value for money” products, noting that canned goods companies are also requesting price adjustments.

“Not all those requested are approved under the SRP (suggested retail price) system, especially if they are basic necessities and prime commodities,” he said.

Last month, Mr. Lopez said that prices of goods are expected to remain stable during the Christmas season as consumer demand remains weak.

The DTI is also waiting for a health department ruling on a potential price cap on COVID-19 swab tests, which Mr. Lopez said the department supports and can help implement.

Quantity limits for purchasing disinfecting alcohol and liquids, hand sanitizers, and face masks have been lifted. — Jenina P. Ibañez