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Sardinella price plummets, but prices of canned fish remain high

/ 02:41 PM April 28, 2012

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—The price of fresh tamban (sardinella) has taken a dive from a high of P100 per kilo about two months ago to just P45 these days, but fuel and other costs have kept prices of canned sardines still high.

This development comes amid bountiful harvests of fishersmen who are flooding the market with fresh tamban.

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But the drop in the price of the fish has provided no relief to those who depend on canned sardines for protein – mainly the poor. A can of sardines in sari-sari stores sells for between P15 and P16, higher by P2 compared to last year’s prices.

“It has become very expensive. I thought that once the fishing season starts, the prices of (canned) sardines will also go down,” Rachel Bunag, a mother of four, commented.

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Going to big grocery stores would not help the poor much either because of the recent hike in public transport fares. A can of sardines from such establishments, without tacking on transportation fare, would cost between P14.25 and P15 pesos, depending on the brand.

George Ledesma, president of the Industrial Groups of Zamboanga, said the government has lifted the ban on sardine fishing, which had been imposed to allow the species to spawn and replenish and would  explain why the fish is now in abundance in the market.

But then, he said, sardine processing companies have to factor into their prices the higher cost of fuel and electricity.

Ledesma said with the power outages, most sardine processing companies are spending more on fuel to run their factories.

Ledesma said fuel prices “increase by the day.” Fishermen also use fuel to catch tamban, he said.

“So if you want to eat sardines, you have to pay for the additional cost,” he added.

Mega Sardines owner and president William Lim told the Inquirer by phone that while the supply of fresh sardines is up, additional expenses on fuel and electricity would also jack up the prices of the processed product.

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“One factor that makes sardine processing expensive is the power disruptions, which force us to use generators, which are more expensive to operate,” Lim said.

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TAGS: Consumer Issues, food, Sardinella, Sardines
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