PRESIDENT FERDINAND R. Marcos Jr. has ordered a Department of Agriculture (DA) official to meet with producers and traders to determine the reason behind the spiraling prices of chicken eggs despite a reported sufficient supply, according to Malacañang.
“We determined that the increase in the price of eggs is not commensurate with the increase in production cost,” the President told DA Undersecretary Domingo F. Panganiban during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, based on a press release from the Presidential Communications Office (PCO).
“So, we will have to have a look to see how to control that because we cannot explain almost one-half of the profit margin that we are seeing,” he added. “We cannot attribute it to cost.”
During the Cabinet meeting, the President sought an explanation as to why egg prices have increased significantly in recent days, “pointing to the widening gap between farm gate and retail prices, benefiting mainly the traders,” the PCO said.
Citing DA’s price watch as of Jan. 13, the PCO said medium-sized eggs retail at P9 each, compared to P6.90 in December. Considering farmgate prices, eggs should just be sold in the market between P7 to P7.50 apiece, it added.
“The DA, in its report to Malacañang, said the farmgate price of medium chicken eggs is pegged at P6.97 per piece, 7.89 percent higher than the price in December 2022,” the PCO said.
ONIONSThe egg issue comes on the heels of the still unresolved shock over high market prices of onions.
The DA did not extend the imposition of a price ceiling or suggested retail price (SRP) on onions, Malacañang said on Monday, citing the forecasted decrease in the vegetable’s price due to the harvest season.
An SRP of P250 per kilo was first imposed on Dec. 29, covering the first week of January after onions in the Philippines hit retail prices of as much as P700 per kilo in early December.
Onion prices may soon decrease to P100 to P150 per kilo with the entry of more than 5,000 metric tons (MT) of imported onions, the Palace said, citing the DA.
To stabilize local onion prices moving forward, the Marcos administration will expand areas being used for onion production and will help farmers by giving them inputs, including seeds, the PCO said.
The President also cited the lack of cold chain facilities that affects onion supply and prices.
“We need more cold storage, we need a better, stronger cold chain so that we could maintain and preserve agricultural products,” he said during the Cabinet meeting.
Onion production in the third quarter of 2022 hit 23.30 MT, 1.7% higher than the 22.92 MT output in the same quarter of 2021, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
Based on the DA’s 2022 supply and demand outlook data, the country had a 120% sufficiency level with 312,830 MT of onions, the Palace said.
Per capita consumption for onion is at 2.341 kilogram per year, with an estimated demand of 21,000 MT per month, it added.
Onion farmers have said in a Senate hearing that traders purchased their harvests in November at only P8 to P15 per kilo.
Mr. Marcos, 65, took the helm of the Agriculture department in July, vowing to boost local production.
Various sectors have been urging him to appoint a new Agriculture chief, citing the government’s failure to cool price hikes.
On Monday night, Mr. Marcos said the concerns of the Agriculture department could be addressed more quickly if he would remain as its chief.
DA officials could not say no to a President, he said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza