Philippines caps retail price of pork, chicken in Metro Manila
A man sells meat inside a market on January 5, 2020.
The STAR/Boy Santos

Philippines caps retail price of pork, chicken in Metro Manila

Ian Nicolas Cigaral (Philstar.com) - February 1, 2021 - 5:03pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has capped the retail price by which pork and chicken products may be sold in the capital region in a bid to tame rising inflation.

Price ceilings will be in effect for 60 days after Executive Order No. 124 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte is published. The order, released to reporters on Monday, imposed a limit of P270 per kilo for both pork shoulder and ham, P300 per kilo for pork belly and P160 per kilo for dressed chicken.

“It is imperative and urgent to ensure that basic necessities are adequate, affordable and accessible to all,” Duterte said in his two-page EO.

Price controls are part of the agriculture department’s multi-pronged approach to arrest spiraling prices of pork, vegetables and chicken emanating from tight supply due to the African swine fever and crop damage from calamities. Apart from these, 162,000 metric tons of pork are being imported, while provinces spared by typhoons last year were asked to ship more produce to Metro Manila.

But the latest order has been questioned for efficacy no less than by senators who asked whether controlling prices is the right fix to inflation propelled by supply shortages. As people struggled over record-high joblessness, legislators were also concerned that price caps would only exacerbate hard times faced by retailers.

“We have seen prices rise even if there was a price freeze before. I think it’s the monitoring that is lacking in implementation,” Senator Francis Pangilinan told a Senate hearing on food inflation early in the day.

Indeed, price controls mandated under Republic Act 7581 had already been utilized as preventive measure against an anticipated inflation uptick from crops damaged by typhoons in November. That did not work, with headline inflation accelerating to 3.5% year-on-year in December. Last month, central bank expected it to have averaged between 3.3-4.1%, the upper end of which breaching the 2-4% annual target.

For pork producers, the price ceiling is also “too low.” Agriculture officials suggested to Duterte that pork be capped at P310 per kilo, up from their original proposal of P300. In the end, the lower amount was approved.

“Of course, we don’t want that retail prices shoot up to P400 plus, in the wet market. But P310 is too low for Luzon. Price cap should be what madam chair (Senator) Cynthia Villar said, at least P330, P340, P360 or P370,” president of the National Federation of Hog Farmers, said in the same hearing. 

But Agriculture Secretary William Dar disagreed, saying that based on his agency’s monitoring, producers would be recoup production costs by selling their produce to traders at P132 per kilo. This price, of course, is padded with other costs such as transport until they reach the market. Senator Imee Marcos, however, questioned Dar’s figures.

“A lot will complain on that price level. That price will only cover cost for feeds…that’s too heavy (for producers). It seems unrealistic,” she said.

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