The government raised the suggested retail prices (SRP) of 73 basic necessities and prime commodities Thursday as manufacturers sought to offset the increasing cost of raw materials and packaging.
Trade Undersecretary for Consumer Protection Ruth Castelo said the price increases were kept to a minimum.
Of the 12 sardine brands in the SRP list, only five got the go-ahead to raise their retail prices: 555, Hakone, Lucky 7, Saba and Toyo. The rising cost of fish and tin packaging were the reasons for the price increase in canned sardines, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.
Both evaporated and condensed milk brands increased retail prices by as much as P2.75 for a big can of condensed milk. Brands that have increased their retail price were Alaska, Liberty and Cowbell.
Castelo said the price of processed milk was due to the high cost of buttermilk, which has gone up by 48 percent since the fourth quarter of 2020, the 133 percent increase in the cost of tin packaging and the 65 percent increase in the cost of palm oil.
Budget breads Pinoy Tasty loaf have increased prices to P38.50 and Pinoy Pandesal to P23.50 per pack due to high cost of flour.
Among the four instant noodle brands in the SRP list, Lomi and Lucky Me adjusted their prices by P0.25 per unit. The high cost of soft flour in the global market contributed to the marginal increase in the price of instant noodles.
In addition, Fidel Salt, one of the two salt brands in the SRP list, raised its retail price due to the rising cost of vacuum salt or food grade salt, which has increased by 148 percent since 2018.
Detergent manufacturers sought price increase for two brands, Surf and Sulit Bar, due to a 41 percent price increase in linear alkyl benzene sulfonic acid, the active cleansing ingredient in laundry soaps.
Meanwhile, the increase in the price of bottled water was attributed to the rising cost of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) that went up by 63 percent in December 2021.
The DTI also cited the increase in the cost of mechanically-deboned meat (MDM) as the major reason for the hike in canned meat prices.
Also , freight costs have risen by 431.4 percent.
Castelo said the DTI had to balance the request for adjustments—aimed at keeping businesses out of the red and keep their workers employed—against keeping basic goods affordable.
But the consumer group Laban Konsyumer, Inc. said the government-sanctioned price hikes were ill-timed since the country continues to be in national state of emergency, after Typhoon Odette wrought havoc on provinces and municipalities in the Visayas and Mindanao.
LKI president Victorio Dimagiba was also critical of the approved price hike on budget breads since the Pinoy Bread project is an initiative between the government and industrial bread manufacturers to give consumers access to affordable breads.
“The amount authorized for the price increase of Pinoy Tasty and Pinoy Pandesal compromised the objective of the industry corporate social responsibility,” he said.
He also noted that the new SRP will tend to compromise the quality of the food of the poor to “become poorer, faster.”
Gardenia, the biggest bread maker, said the 35 percent hike in the cost of wheat flour would not only raise prices of generic breads but also on branded breads.
Simplicio Umali Jr., president and general manager of Gardenia Bakeries Phils. Inc, said branded breads are raising prices at the same rate or higher than the generic breads.