No rise in bread prices yet, says Malacañang
MANILA, Philippines—There is no imminent increase in bread prices despite a threat against the importation of the lower-priced Turkish flour, Malacañang assured the industry on Wednesday.
“The bakers made a commitment that there won’t be any increase for now,” said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.
Bakers’ associations have warned that the price of the two Filipino bread staples, pan de sal and “Tasty” bread, could go up because of the inability of importers to supply the industry with Turkish flour.
Flour importers have stopped importing Turkish flour because of the objections of the Philippine Association of Flour Millers (Pafmil) which has filed an antidumping case against the imports and petitioned for an increase of the tariff to 20 percent from the current 7 percent.
According to Lacierda, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is working with several associations of flour millers and bakers into developing a “higher yielding” variety of “Harinang Pinoy,” a low-cost flour that local millers have developed as an alternative to imports.
The DTI has given itself two weeks to come up with a concrete plan to provide flour millers and bakers with an improved version of this alternative flour.
Until then, millers and bakers have promised not to increase the prices of these two bread types.
The Filipino-Chinese Bakery Association Inc. (FCBAI) and the Philippine Baking Industry Group (Philbaking) warned earlier that the price of the “Pinoy Tasty” would go up by about P3 to P4 per loaf from the current P37, while the cost of a 10-piece pack “Pinoy Pandesal” may increase by up to P2.
The groups said the inability of importers to supply Turkish flour was “a big concern to the bakers because this means that they will be forced to use the higher-priced local flour to produce breads, more particularly the Pinoy Tasty and Pinoy Pandesal.”
Produced by small neighborhood bakers, the Pinoy Tasty and Pinoy Pandesal refer to affordable brands of bread products that use the cheaper Turkish flour.
The Pafmil is opposed to imports of Turkish flour, which it said is being sold to the Philippines “at dumping prices in violation of World Trade Organization rules.” This, Pafmil claimed, puts local millers at a disadvantage.
As a result, the flour millers have filed a dumping case against the Turkish imports and petitioned for an increase in the tariff to 20 percent.
The Pafmil has developed the Harinang Pinoy as a low-priced alternative to imported flour but the FCBAI said it was of poor quality.
“Our members reported failures, up to 20 percent rejections, resulting in big losses,” said FCBAI president Benito Lim.
Many bakers refuse to use Harinang Pinoy as it does not provide as much yield as the Turkish flour, the bakers group said.
At a press briefing yesterday, Lacierda said the commitment of the millers was “to find ways to improve the yield of Harinang Pinoy, so they’re doing it right now and the bakers have committed that there won’t be any increase for now.”
“DTI is reviewing their suggested price but we’re looking already how the millers will improve the yield of Harinang Pinoy. There won’t be any price adjustment in Pinoy Tasty and Pinoy Pandesal because the DTI and the bakers and millers are still studying (this),” he said.
However, if plans to improve the yield of Harinang Pinoy fail, bakers will eventually have to use the more expensive brands of local flour which would in turn increase the prices of Pinoy Tasty and Pinoy Pandesal, he admitted.
He clarified that the price increase will only affect Pinoy Tasty and Pinoy Pandesal.
“Not all the bread prices will increase. We’re focused only on Pinoy Tasty and Pinoy Pandesal because these two types of bread use a different kind of flour called Harinang Pinoy,” Lacierda said.
He said there are still supplies of Turkish flour available in the market.
But with the dumping case against the Turkish flour imports, Turkish flour would also become expensive because additional duties would be imposed on them, Lacierda said.
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