SM joins DTI’s affordable rice campaign
By early next year, cheap imported rice will be made available in SM stores across the country, as the retail giant joined the rice program in December, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.
In a recent statement, DTI said SM had joined a program called Presyong Risonable Dapat (PRD), which seeks to give the public access to cheaper rice that is priced no more than P38 a kilo.
As of December, imported well-milled rice could already be bought at P35 per kilo in 230 SM Supermarket, Hypermarket, and Savemore branches in the Greater Manila Area and North Luzon, DTI said.
“The SM group also announced that the program will be available nationwide by early next year,” the statement added.
DTI’s PRD Program, in partnership with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Food Authority (NFA), allows retailers to directly import rice and sell it at a maximum of P38 per kilo.
The program also removes traders from the equation, DTI said, as retailers can now source rice directly and sell it in their stores, increasing access points of affordable as well as quality rice varieties.
SM joins fellow giants Robinsons Supermarket and Puregold under the program, which was launched after the prices of basic goods and services reached their highest in nearly a decade.
It remains to be seen how the program, whose initials were patterned after President Rodrigo Duterte, will help rein in inflation, a burden on consumers which was, in part, caused by rice supply problems.
While the program, when it was announced months ago, limited the price to P38 a kilo, the staple was seen sold at P39 during its launch at a Robinsons supermarket earlier this month.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said making rice available below P39 is “what matters,” despite an earlier announcement that set the benchmark at P38.
“At this point, we are able to make available rice below P39. That’s what matters. Even if it is 39 pesos, it should be fine,” he said in a previous interview.
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