A CONSUMER protection group called for efforts to stabilize food prices as producers seek higher prices for their goods, citing global supply chain disruptions, which have increased their import costs.

Laban Konsyumer, Inc. President Victorio A. Dimagiba said in a Viber message Saturday: “Keeping prices at bay is the better option. (The) food sector made money even last year,” he said.

The Philippine Chamber of Food Manufacturers, Inc. (PCFMI) said that the industry has been absorbing additional costs in the import of raw materials and finished products due to the supply chain disruptions, and must pass on some expenses to consumers.

Importers of raw materials, finished goods, and packaging materials are being charged higher shipping fees, the business group said.

The Department of Trade and Industry has said that the requests for higher prices for essential goods are being reviewed, although a new suggested retail price bulletin is on hold after the capital region was returned to a stricter lockdown setting to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Delta variant. 

Mr. Dimagiba said that the concerns of the companies are fair due to the shipping constraints.

He said however that it is important to verify the quantities of raw materials and finished goods being imported.

“Both parties should be transparent that there should be no stock inventory that can lead to windfall profits,” he said.

“Also the peso’s exchange rate should be the average for the past three years including 2019 for the regulator to know whether the importers spent more or less for materials. Energy was cheaper last year. There should be offsetting of costs.”

The PCFMI has said that any price increases would not be significant, and called on the government to regulate what it called exorbitant shipping charges. — Jenina P. Ibañez