Cry for gov’t aid as they reel from fierce competition, high output cost
Community bakers on Sunday asked the government to standardize bread prices—to at least P4 per piece for regular pandesal, or 100 percent of current prices—and adjust them to inflation to stop the pandesal industry from dying.
Small bakeries led by the Asosasyon ng Panaderong Pilipino (APP) proposed a P4 standardized price of regular pandesal—a daily staple for millions of Filipino families—to avoid cutthroat competition and allow community bakers to co-exist without harming each other’s livelihood.
This comes on the heels of the Philippine Association of Flour Millers Inc. asking the government to reduce tariffs on imported ingredients for bread production to help stabilize the price of local bread.
Last month, local bread makers warned that prices of budget bread would increase by at least P2 per pack as manufacturers could not keep up with the rising cost of ingredients, especially flour.
The Philippine Baking Industry Group, which said it has experienced an increase in flour prices following a rise in demand, has also asked the Trade and Industry Department if they could raise their prices.
“We are a dying heritage. Many of us have closed during the pandemic, [and] the surviving bakeries are barely making profits. We ask the government to help us continue our livelihood by extending assistance in ways that will lower our cost production,” APP acting-president Luisito Chavez said during the weekly Balitaan sa Maynila forum Sunday.
Chavez said a few of the remaining community bakers were barely surviving the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and turned to downsize the weight of their pieces of bread, especially pandesal.
Regular pandesal currently sells at P2 to P2.50 per piece, while jumbo pandesal costs about P5.
He said that based on real value, the pricing should be P4 per piece for regular pandesal and P8 for jumbo pandesal, all things considered.
Inflation-adjusted, the price should be P5 and P10 each, respectively, he said.
The APP said regular-sized pandesal should weigh about 35 to 38 grams a piece, but the crisis compelled bakers to scrimp on weight instead of increasing the price. It said that while pandesal sells at the same price, it is lighter at 18 grams apiece.
APP director Princess Lunar said neighborhood bakers were having a hard time adjusting their prices to inflation, as there is no uniform pricing that will ensure fair competition among bakeries nationwide.
“Traditionally, we do not easily change our pricing whenever there are fluctuations in the local and global supply of raw materials. We absorb the losses until the market corrects itself. But with this spate of events affecting us, I think it is high time the government attends to us and our needs,” she said.
Lunar said almost 20 percent of community bakers already closed shop and said this could easily go up to 50 percent.
The APP said the share of community bakers to overall pandesal producers shrank to 19 percent from 40 percent in less than three years.
Senator Imee Marcos has encouraged the government to find new suppliers of wheat and develop the production of non-wheat flours to prevent sudden spikes in the prices of bread and noodles that are staples of the Filipino diet.
But Russia’s invasion of agricultural power Ukraine has severely disrupted the global wheat market, prompting warnings that the conflict could lead to hunger in some countries.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the country’s headline inflation rate in June 2022 was at 6.1 percent — a three-year high since November 2018’s 6.1 percent and October 2018’s 6.9 percent.
The PSA said the higher inflation rate was brought about by the higher annual growth rate in the prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages which saw a rise from 4.9 percent in May 2022 to 6.0 percent in June 2022.