Canned sardines price adjustment sought

A group of canned sardine manufacturers on Thursday said that the public will have a new burden to bear should the Department of Trade and Industry allow a price adjustment to canned sardines in the market.

In a radio interview, Canned Sardines Association of the Philippines executive director Francisco “Bombit” Buencamino said they were clamoring for a 3 to 4 percent price adjustment due to fluctuating fuel prices.

This comes as DTI Consumer Protection Group Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said manufacturers of processed milk, coffee, instant noodles, bread, candles and detergent soap were also seeking price adjustments.

Buencamino said manufacturers utilize motorized bancas that use fuel to catch herring or tamban and stressed that it is about time that the DTI granted their request as the last price adjustment for canned sardines was made in 2019. Since then, there had been rounds of fuel adjustments.

“Fuel prices have been volatile since then. Fuel eats up much in terms of cost. And I do not think that it’s fair to accuse us of asking for too much. After 4 years without movement, I don’t think so,” Buencamino said.

He added that they were under pressure to ramp up production during the catching season, or 9 out of 12 months in a year, as the remaining three months are a non-fishing season to allow the sardine population to recover.

In 2020, the government decided to forgo price adjustments because of the global pandemic. It was only in 2021 that some food manufacturers were given the green light to adjust prices, but sardines were not included.

Meanwhile, Castelo said the DTI will not release its latest suggested retail prices for consumer products just yet, despite a promise made by Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual in December last year.

“Initially, the plan was to release them this month, but we are not done yet studying the manufacturers’ proposals, which is why we cannot provide a definite date to release the SRP. We want to make sure of the computations of important figures,” Castelo said.

The last SRP bulletin was issued by the DTI on 12 August 2022, posting price increases for 67 of 218 Stock Keeping Units, which were granted due to rising production costs, varying from 3.29 percent to 10 percent.

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