Onion traders warned of profiteering

At a time when onions go for P550 to P600 per kilo, consumers got to purchase the bulbs at P400 a kilo after Rice Up and Community Pantry Ph bought white onions direct from farmers in Pangasinan in what they callled Solidarity Purchase. Said groups bought the bulk at P375 per kilo and sold them at little profit at Claret School in Quezon City. Analysts said plans to import red onions to soothe a brutally-high inflation and growing consumer woes could end up hurting onion farmers in the Philippines. | Photograph by Analy Labor for the daily tribune @tribunephl_ana

Several traders may face profiteering charges as retail prices of onions remained high despite farmgate prices declining to P120 per kilo, the Department of Agriculture said on Saturday.

Agriculture Assistant Secretary and spokesperson Kristine Evangelista made the warning in a radio interview after farmers sold their harvest at P120 per kilo as of Friday based on an inspection conducted on Friday at onion plantations in Nueva Ecija.

“We have a law against profiteering. We are now discussing how much is the price to consider it as profiteering. It is now being discussed by the Adjudication Team (of the DA),” Evangelista said.

Evangelista added that the DA is currently working with the market leaders to update them on the farmgate pricing of onions.

The retail cost of the bulbs, Evangelista mentioned, should be between P200 and P250 per kilogram, adding that DA is expecting this to further go down as the harvest increases.

However, DA’s price monitoring in Metro Manila markets showed that onion’s retail price still ranges between P320 and P450 per kilo.

“We will inform our contacts in the markers that this is the farmgate price, and this should be the prevailing price even if we don’t have a (suggested retail price), and we will ask them the source of the bulbs,” Evangelista said.

When the government imposed the P250 per kilo SRP from 28 December to 7 January 2023, Evangelista acknowledged that nobody complied and that the DA was considering imposing another SRP.

“Based on our conversation with the vendors that time, they said, ‘how can we comply with the SRP when we bought the onions at P550 (per kilo)’,” Evangelista said.

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