By Revin Mikhael D. Ochave, Reporter

THE supermarket industry said prices of many goods started rising this month in response to higher fuel prices, and advised consumers to explore substitutes for their usual favorite brands.

Steven T. Cua, Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association president, said via mobile phone that the prices of some grocery items have increased at the beginning of March.

“Because of unceasing and huge oil price increases, the increase in price has accelerated. Prices of basic necessities and prime commodities (increased) around 3% to 6%. For nonessentials, as high as 8% to 15%,” Mr. Cua said.

According to Mr. Cua, the more expensive goods include powdered milk, canned meat, canned fish, fresh milk, biscuits, toothpaste, lotion, children’s formula, liquor, most imported items, bread spreads, and condiments.

Mr. Cua advised consumers to shift to smaller sizes of the same product or alternative brands, and to take advantage of items on sale.

“Consumers can also shop during lean hours, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. even on weekends, to have more time to check on prices and labels. For fresh produce, shop early in the mornings so price-off items have not been snatched away yet,” Mr. Cua said.  

Since the start of the year, the prices of gasoline, diesel, and kerosene have risen by P9.65, P11.65, and P10.30 per liter, respectively.

Trade Undersecretary Ruth B. Castelo told BusinessWorld that the DTI has received requests to adjust the prices of basic goods. However, Ms. Castelo said the reason for the proposed increase is not directly related to high fuel prices. 

“We have (received requests), but not due directly to fuel prices,” Ms. Castelo said in a mobile phone message.

On Jan. 27, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) issued a new suggested retail price list for basic and prime commodities, which reflected higher prices for 73 stock keeping units (SKUs) out of 216 SKUs.

Some of these products include bottled water, processed canned meat and canned beef, instant noodles, salt, and canned sardines. According to the DTI, the increase was due to the increase in the global prices of raw materials and materials used in packaging.