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El Niño impact on prices to show up in ‘2-3 weeks’

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vegetable stall market palengke
A vendor arranges vegetables in Nepa Q Mart market in Kamuning, Quezon City. -- PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said any impact of El Niño on food prices could start showing up at the retail level in the next few weeks.

“As of now wala pa naman [there are no increases due to El Nino]. Pero ‘pag naramdaman na ‘yan [But when the effects of El Niño start emerging], maybe in two to three weeks, we’ll know the impact on production then we’ll find out if [retail prices will] increase,” Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez told reporters in Makati City late Wednesday.

He noted that prices of vegetables and freshwater fish might increase.

As of April 2, lost agricultural output due to El Niño was estimated at P5.05 billion on volume of 276,568 metric tons, according to the Department of Agriculture’ Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Operations Center.

As for other commodities, prices of sugar and certain cuts of pork are “stable,” he said.

Sugar currently averages P2,200 per 50-kilogram bag, but Mr. Lopez said the price needs to fall to around P2,000 in order for food producers to be “competitive.”




Meanwhile, chicken prices have been fluctuating, he said.

Mr. Lopez said farmgate prices of chicken are at around P60 to P70 per kilo, and as a result the average selling price should be around P110.

The DTI added it will release a new set of suggested retail prices (SRP) for basic necessities and prime commodities (BNPCs) amid a request for a P0.25 to P0.50 increase from sardine canners.

“April maglalabas kami. May mga natatangap kaming request on increase sa sardines kasi mahal inputs nila, [We will issue a new SRP in April. We have been getting requests to raise the suggested price for sardines because inputs have become more expensive.]”

Mr. Lopez said the DTI will consider the request of some of the 20 canned sardines manufacturers for a “minimal” increase.

All other canned goods manufacturers were not affected and have not asked for an increase, according to Mr. Lopez.

The last SRP list was released in February, with 56 out of 242 items in the BNPC list rising 1% to 5%. — Janina C. Lim