Manufacturers eye price hike in canned sardines




The Manila Times


MANUFACTURERS have filed separate petitions before the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to allow them to increase the price of canned sardines by three to fiVE PESOS PER TIN. “The cost inputs are rising by about 18 percent. Most of the requests that have been filed at the DTI for an adjustment in prices is from about P3 to P5 per tin,” said Francisco “Bombit” Buencamino, executive director, Canned Sardines Associations of the Philippines. Buencamino noted that the price adjustment approved by the DTI in July was only minimal. “We have been suffering because of the freezing of the prices since 2019. It’s been three years now,” Buencamino added. “What do you think a businessman will do if the cost around him increases by 18 percent, we may be forced to do that (increase prices) or go out of the business or reduce our business. Those are the only options that are available,” he noted. Buencamino is confident that the DTI will act immediately on the request of the canned manufacturers. Buencamino said canned manufacturers also want the DTI to remove canned sardines from the list of basic commodities covered by the suggested retail price. At the same time, Buencamino also confirmed the looming shortage in the supply of canned sardines with the start of a threemonth fishing ban in December. Buencamino added that canneries still need at least 72,000 metric tons of tamban before the scheduled fishing ban from Dec. 1, 2022 to Feb. 28, 2023. He said that the canneries need at least 216,000 metric tons of tamban annually to ensure production. “We are trying to prevent the shortage. If we cannot improve our stocks from October to November, starting December 1, the fishing ban will be enforced up to Feb. 28, 2023,” he said. The ban allows fish species to reproduce and for fry and juveniles to mature and restore valuable fish stocks. Buencamino said he already raised this concern with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Officer in Charge Demosthenes Escote. “There are ongoing talks of getting together the municipal and commercial fishers. One vital issue here is the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). We are hoping to get the attention of (DILG) Secretary (Benhur) Abalos to tell coastline LGUs (local government units) in the Zamboanga Peninsula to allow fishing within 10.1 to 15 kilometers from municipal waters,” he said. Buencamino said the tamban stocks of the canneries are good for three and a half months. “That covers already the month of December. The remaining problem will be from January to February 2023,” he said. “The single-stroke solution is if the DILG allows us, and it can become a permanent policy action already,” he added. Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Inc. (PCAFI) President Danilo Fausto said there is a need to augment the inventory of canned sardine manufacturers by tapping municipal fishers to supply the additional requirements. Fausto said sardines have big potential for exports as the Philippines offers the cheapest price pegged at P21 per can compared with 42 per can in Indonesia, 52 per can in the United States and 100 per can in Europe. Chicken imports The PCAFI has appealed to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to order a stop to the importation of chicken. Fausto said farmgate prices of chicken have dropped from January to July due to the influx of imported chicken in local markets. At least about 416,000 metric tons of imported chicken flooded local markets during the period. “Because of this, farmgate prices of chicken have gone below breakeven cost resulting in some poultry growers to stop production and withhold loading of chicken in their farms,” he said. Fausto added that while there is a need to import mechanically deboned meat since they are not locally produced, it is passed on as chicken fillet or meat directly competing with local production. Fausto also asked the President to increase the 2023 proposed budget of the National Dairy Authority and the Philippine Carabao Center by P300 million each to fund the comprehensive breeding program to improve the local herd buildup instead of importing more expensive dairy animals. “The dairy sector is low-hanging fruit. With a 22 percent growth for the first half of the year, it has the highest performance in the agriculture sector,” Fausto added. He noted that the country is still importing an average of $1.0 billion of milk from New Zealand, Australia and the United States. Salt PCAFI is also asking Malacañang to allocate at least P300 million to revitalize the dying salt industry as 93 percent of the country’s supply is imported. PCAFI is backing the passage of House Bill 1976 which seeks to revitalize the local salt industry. “We are hereby requesting for the consideration of His Excellency the proposed House Bill 1976 introduced by Akbayan party-list Rep. Ron Salo,” Fausto said. Fausto added that the P300 million initial funding is necessary for the development of the salt industry. “The Philippines imports much of the salt that Filipinos consume. For the last 11 years (2009 to 2020), salt import, which also covered table salt and denatured salt, was valued at $303 million, coming from Australia, 72 percent; China, 18.7 percent; Thailand, 4.2 percent; and New Zealand, 2.39 percent,” Fausto said in his memorandum to Marcos. Fausto added that the salt import is estimated at around 550,000 metric tons every year which constitutes around 93 percent of the salt requirement of the country. “Such an irony considering that the Philippines has 36,000 kilometers of shoreline, the fifth longest shoreline in the world, which can be utilized for massive salt production. Indeed, challenges exist in the local salt industry, and the government must undertake immediate steps to address them, lest the county be completely dependent on imported salt,” Fausto added. Salo urged the President to certify House Bill 1976 as urgent. The bill seeks to revitalize the local salt industry and prevent the country’s full dependence on imported salt. “It is high time for the government to step in to restore a dying industry to its full potential. The revitalization of the salt industry will pave the way for increased employment for our local salt farmers, improved food security for our countrymen, and increased overall economic growth for the country,” Salo said. The bill proposes the creation of an inter-agency body to be called Asindero or the Administration for Salt Industry Development, Revitalization and Optimization. “I am fully convinced that institutionalizing an orchestrated approach to develop our salt industry will support the livelihood of our salt farmers who belong to the poorest of the poor, as well as benefit our food processing, agriculture and livestock sectors,” Salo added.