Philippines Announces Voluntary Price Freeze on Essential Goods Amid El Niño

The Philippines' Department of Trade and Industry has implemented a voluntary price freeze on select bottled water, canned meat, and processed milk products until July 10, 2024, to address El Niño's impact on prices. Several major manufacturers have committed to holding prices steady on specific products to combat profiteering and artificial price inflation.

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Bijay Laxmi
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Philippines Announces Voluntary Price Freeze on Essential Goods Amid El Niño

Philippines Announces Voluntary Price Freeze on Essential Goods Amid El Niño

The Philippines' Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has announced a voluntary price freeze on select bottled water, canned meat, and processed milk products until July 10, 2024, to address the impact of El Niño on prices. The move comes after Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual met with manufacturers of basic necessities and prime commodities on May 3 to discuss strategies for managing price hikes amid concerns about the effect of the dry spell on food security.

Why this matters: This voluntary price freeze demonstrates the government's proactive approach to mitigating the effects of El Niño on the country's food security, and its commitment to protecting consumers from price gouging. As El Niño's impact is expected to be felt across the region, this initiative sets a precedent for other countries to follow in addressing the economic and social implications of climate-related events.

Several major manufacturers have committed to holding prices steady on specific products, including Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines Inc. for Wilkins Distilled and Viva Mineralized bottled water, Century Pacific Food Inc. for Argentina and 555 canned meat products, and CDO Foodsphere for their luncheon meat, meat loaf, and corned beef varieties. Birch Tree full cream milk, produced by Century Pacific Food Inc., is also part of the voluntary price freeze.

The DTI expects more manufacturers to join the initiative, which aims to combat profiteering, hoarding, and the formation of cartels that could artificially inflate prices. "The Department expects to receive more advisories from other manufacturers of similar nature," the DTI stated. The move is part of a broader "farm-to-fork" strategy that involves partnering with the Department of Agriculture and Clark International Airport Corp. to establish the Clark Mega Food Hub and the Nueva Vizcaya Agricultural Terminal.

Senator Francis Tolentino's urgent call for price control in the face of the severe dry spell has been approved, and the DTI has responded positively to the suggestion. DTI Assistant Secretary Amanda Marie Nograles thanked Tolentino, noting that the price freeze will help consumers affected by El Niño even without an official government declaration of a state of calamity. Tolentino said, "With the positive response of the DTI to our suggestion to impose price control because of El Niño, the prices of certain commodities will be controlled even without the government declaration of a state of calamity."

Under the Price Act, prices of basic and prime commodities cannot be raised without government approval during a state of calamity. Although a nationwide state of calamity hasn't been declared in response to El Niño, this voluntary initiative demonstrates the commitment of manufacturers to supporting Filipino consumers during challenging times. The DTI has assured the public that it will continue to intensify its monitoring efforts across the supply chain to combat any attempts at artificially inflating prices.