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THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is appealing to manufacturers to minimize any price increases for ingredients used to prepare the traditional feast for Christmas Eve, known as noche buena.

“We have a standing appeal for manufacturers (to keep price hikes at) an absolute minimum only. We understand that the cost of production has increased,” Trade Undersecretary Ruth B. Castelo said at the Laging Handa briefing on Wednesday.

“We don’t want manufacturers to incur losses but the price increases should also not be too heavy for consumers,” she added.

The DTI issued a noche buena price guide on Nov. 23 which reflects price increases for 195 out of 223 stock keeping units.

The price guide covers ham, fruit cocktail, spaghetti noodles, spaghetti sauce, and queso de bola.

According to Ms. Castelo, the price increases for products in the guide range from 10% to 27%.

“For ham, there is a price increase of up to 10%, fruit cocktail is at 13%, and mayonnaise around 27%,” Ms. Castelo said.

“We are strengthening our price monitoring efforts especially now that it is the Christmas season,” she added.

According to the DTI, the prices of products in the noche buena guide are not regulated and do not require approval, as opposed to basic necessities and prime commodities covered by the suggested retail price bulletin, as authorized by Republic Act No. 7581 or the Price Act.

Separately, Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual led the pilot run of the “Ikot Palengke” (market rounds) program in Marikina City on Wednesday, to check whether vendors are charging fair prices.

“Today’s launch of the ‘Ikot Palengke’ reminds everyone that we at DTI will always make sure to protect our consumers. Let this be a warning to unscrupulous traders and those who do abusive practices such as hoarding, profiteering and cartels,” Mr. Pascual said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave