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Stabilize bread, noodle prices – Imee

Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star
Stabilize bread, noodle prices â Imee
Sen. Imee Marcos said, who chairs the Senate committee on economic affairs, said bread and noodle prices will reflect the volatility of wheat prices caused by the war between Russia and Ukraine, the world’s main wheat exporters.
The STAR / Krizjohn Rosales, file

MANILA, Philippines — The government should 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, Sen. Imee Marcos said.

Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on economic affairs, said bread and noodle prices will reflect the volatility of wheat prices caused by the war between Russia and Ukraine, the world’s main wheat exporters.

“Since local flour millers import all their wheat requirements, their production costs will swing with higher wheat prices and be passed on to bread producers and on to consumers,” Marcos explained.

“The US is our main supplier of wheat. But more banking and transport sanctions by Western nations against Russia could reduce global wheat supply and push up market prices, more so if Russia retaliates,” she added.

The Philippines is among the top 10 importers of wheat from Ukraine, where farming and shipping have stalled due to the ongoing war in Eastern Europe.

“Add to that the high cost of LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) and you can expect the price of pan de sal made in community bakeries to go up. Snack time may have to go,” Marcos said.

The price of wheat has surged by more than 73 percent in Friday morning trade at $13.50 per bushel from $7.80 at the start of the year, and by almost 43 percent since the Feb. 24 high of $9.47 when Russia attacked Ukraine.

Marcos pointed out that the Philippines now has an alternative source of wheat nearby after China lifted its restrictions on Russian exports last week.

“Let’s break bread with China and get a better deal on wheat prices while maintaining reliable trade with the US and Australia,” she explained.

Marcos lamented that the industry potential of non-wheat flours for bread production remains underdeveloped despite their proven use in creating the iconic Nutribun “almost half a century ago.”

“Why do we still import non-wheat flour from Thailand and Vietnam when we can plant and harvest our own raw sources like rice, corn, camote, cassava, potato and monggo (green gram) in a similar climate?” Marcos asked.

“Let’s rediscover non-wheat flour as a solution not only to the rising cost of regular flour but also to persistent hunger and malnutrition, with protein-rich peanut and malunggay (moringa) in the mix,” Marcos urged.

IMEE MARCOS

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