Inflation-hit Philippines eyes onion imports as prices hit $11.68/kg


Inflation-hit Philippines is planning to import 22,000 tons of onions to boost domestic supply as prices of the cooking ingredient increased to as much as $11.68 a kilogram, making it possibly the most expensive in the world.

The import proposal was arrived at during a meeting of the agriculture department’s executive committee and will be recommended to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who is also the agriculture secretary, for approval, a Bloomberg report quoted department’s assistant secretary Rex Estoperez  as saying on Sunday.

The proposed purchase “will be good for a month and to pull down prices,” Estoperez was quoted as saying in the report. “We can’t sit idly because one of the drivers of inflation is the price of onions,” he added.

Estoperez said the purchase would be a “temporary solution” and there are no further plans to import for now.

Once approved, the agriculture department anticipates that the proposed imports will arrive no later than the first week of February.

Around 17,000 tonnes of onions are consumed every month in the country.

Based on the retail prices of farm commodities tracked by the agriculture department as of 5 January, 2023, red onions were selling for as much as 650 pesos ($11.68) a kilogram in the Philippines, and the white variety was priced as high as 600 pesos, or about three times the price of chicken and about 25 per cent more expensive than beef.

Estoperez said the half of the planned imports will be distributed in the main island of Luzon and the remaining will be shipped to Visayas and Mindanao.

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