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Prices of most noche buena goods rise ahead of holidays

FOOD products typically used for Christmas meals, such as noodles and spaghetti sauce, are sold at Commonwealth Market, Nov. 8, 2020. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

MAJORITY of food products considered as Christmas staples by Filipinos will see an increase in prices ahead of the holiday season, with some pasta and spaghetti sauce items set to go up by more than 10%, the Trade department said.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is set to release on Wednesday (Nov. 23) its noche buena price guide, which includes prices of 223 shelf keeping units (SKUs) such as ham, fruit cocktail, pasta or spaghetti noodles, spaghetti sauce, and queso de bola.

In a statement, the DTI said the suggested retail prices (SRP) of 195 out of 223 SKUs of noche buena items will go up by 1-10%. The brands of these items were not released.

Of this, 94 food products will see a price hike of more than 10%. Prices of 51 items will go up by 6-10%, while another 50 products will go up by 1-5%.

The DTI said eight SKUs saw no price change, while two items reported lower prices. Eighteen new SKUs were included in the price guide.

“The prices of raw materials have gone up and we need to recognize that. (The price increases are) those (items) with heavy imported components and those that require heavy transportation demand,” Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Makati City on Tuesday.

In a separate statement, the DTI Consumer Protection and Advocacy Bureau (CPAB) said the agency does not regulate or approve prices of noche buena products, unlike basic necessities and prime commodities included in the SRP bulletin as mandated by the Price Act.

“Also, retailers may have different prices because of the non-regulation of the prices of the Noche Buena products — but this is where free market competition comes into play,” CPAB said.

It added that price adjustments may have already been implemented by some manufacturers even before the guide is released.

“The price guide details were surveyed by the CPAB from Noche Buena products manufacturers. The manufacturers stated that these are their prices until the end of the year,” it said.

According to the DTI, the price of ham now ranges from P163-P892.50, versus P158-P862.50 a year ago. Most (13) ham products have increased prices by 1-5%, while seven had a 6-10% increase. Three ham products have raised prices by more than 10%, while four had no change in price and two had lower prices.

Prices of most spaghetti, elbow macaroni, salad macaroni and spaghetti sauce products went up by more than 10%.

For instance, a pack of spaghetti pasta now costs between P25.50 and P111, up by P4.50-P27 from a year ago.

The prices of elbow macaroni and salad macaroni have gone up by P4-P27.75 to P23-P119 and P39-P117, respectively.

Spaghetti sauce now retails for P23.55-P95.50, up by P1.55-P14.93, while tomato sauce is now at P17.25-P92.25, up by P1.20-P18.50.   

Fruit cocktail now costs P56-P288, up by 50 centavos to P33.05 from a year ago, while queso de bola has increased by P10-P56.65 to P199.50-P513.75.

The DTI said it continues to discuss with manufacturers how to ensure that consumers can access low-cost products in the market.

Meanwhile, the DTI-CPAB confirmed that it currently has notices of price increases for 55 SKUs (25 food and 29 non-food) from 15 manufacturers included in the SRP bulletin.   

The CPAB said it is still assessing the price increase petitions.   

“The increase is due to the high cost of imported and local materials, packaging materials, and overhead charges,” the CPAB said.   

Rising prices of goods are expected to further stoke inflation for the rest of the year. Headline inflation accelerated to 7.7% in October, marking the seventh straight month that inflation breached the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) 2-4% target range.

In the 10-month period, inflation averaged 5.4%, still below the BSP’s revised average forecast of 5.8%.

Meanwhile, the DTI is boosting market monitoring efforts under a new program called the “Ikot Palengke Program Tamang Timbang, Tamang Presyo Para sa Mamimiling Pilipino.”

The program also seeks to establish the basis for the recommendations on the price ceilings of certain products, and boost consumer protection. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

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