After onions, egg prices befuddle BBM


President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday ordered an official of the Department of Agriculture, which he concurrently heads, to identify the cause of the upsurge in the prices of eggs.

The Presidential Communications Office said Marcos, during a Cabinet meeting, asked DA Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban to immediately meet with egg producers and traders.

“We determined that the increase in the price of eggs was not commensurate to the increase in production costs,” Marcos said in a video message released by PCO Secretary Cheloy Garafil.

“So we will have to look at how to control that because we cannot explain almost one-half of the profit margin that we are seeing. We cannot attribute it to cost.”

According to the DA, medium-sized eggs retailed at P9 each as of 13 January, compared to P6.90 in December 2022.

The DA said eggs should retail at between P7 to P7.50 per piece given their farmgate prices. Reports showed that eggs are being sold for as high as P9.60 per piece.

To address the situation, the agriculture department has reconvened the Price and Volume Watch Committee and Advisory Groups for Livestock and Poultry to closely track the prices of eggs across the country.

Stabilizing supply
In its report to Malacañang, the DA said the farmgate price of medium chicken eggs was P6.97 per piece, 7.89 percent higher compared to December last year.

Also discussed during the Cabinet meeting was the program aimed at helping onion farmers increase their yield to stabilize supply.

“We’ll do this by increasing the area being planted to onions, number one,” Marcos said. “And secondly, we will help, the DA will help, by providing inputs.”

The DA has deferred extending the P250 suggested retail price for onions due to the lower price range anticipated following the harvest season.

It reported that onion prices may decrease by P100 to P150 per kilo with the entry of more than 5,000 metric tons of imported onions.

Marcos also raised the issue of the lack of cold chain facilities that affect onion supply and prices. “We need more cold storage, we need a better, stronger cold chain so we can maintain and preserve our agricultural products,” he said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported that onion production in the third quarter of last year was at 23.30 metric tons, 1.7 percent higher than the 22.92 MT output in the same quarter of 2021.

As of 15 December last year, the total stock inventory of locally produced red onions in cold storage nationwide stood at 2,209.45 MT.

Despite the approaching onion harvest season, the DA is importing about 22,000 MT of the commodity to address high prices.

2-month buffer stock
Marcos reiterated that his administration is establishing a two-month sugar buffer stock.

“Again (for) sugar, to cut down speculation, we are guaranteeing a buffer stock of two months. So, there will be no shortage, the price will not increase,” Marcos said.

He added: “We are beginning to rationalize this buying schedule, the importation schedule so that we will match the crop here of the local producers of sugar.”

The DA and the Sugar Regulatory Administration have recommended importing up to 450,000 MT of sugar to maintain a two-month sugar buffer stock.

During the Cabinet meeting earlier that day, Agriculture officials reported that the raw sugar stock balance is at 362,263 MT, 0.92 percent lower than the 365,633 MT of the previous crop year.

Refined sugar production, meanwhile, reached 316,829.15 MT, 34 percent higher than last crop year’s 235,838.45 MT.

Domestic use of refined sugar for the same period was at 211,832.90 MT, 17.78 percent lower compared to last CY’s 257,646.75 MT.

The refined sugar stock balance stood at 132,384.55 MT, 8.68 percent higher compared to last CY’s 121,813.25 MT.

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