MANILA, Philippines - With 5 weeks left before Christmas Day, prices of items traditionally used for the Noche Buena feast on Christmas Eve have gone up even higher.
Supermarket owners are advising consumers to buy what they can now to avoid further price increases or try cheaper alternative brands.
Fresh whole chicken is now selling at P140 at wet markets, up by P10 per kilo in a week, according to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics.
Cured ham is expected to be sold at even higher prices when December rolls in.
This is why wise consumers like Babes Morales are shopping this early for Noche Buena items.
She bought 2 packs of ham and placed them in the freezer.
"Baka maubusan din ako eh," said Morales.
Owners of grocery stores and supermarkets advise budget conscious consumers to shift to cheaper alternative brands to save on precious pesos.
A 300-ml can of pure condensed milk by a known brand may fetch P51, but an alternative brand goes for only P30 for the same size, a clear P21 savings right there.
Such a strategy was employed by Letty Bedilla, a consumer, in buying ingredients for a spaghetti dish for Christmas.
She bought the cheapest brand of pasta noodles and chose the spaghetti sauce sold in "tipid" pack. She added one bottle of ketchup to thicken the spaghetti sauce.
As for cheese, Bedilla chose cheese food, which is cheaper. It is also cheese but with added cornstarch.
Her grocery bill amounted only to P136 (spaghetti at P63 per kilo, spaghetti sauce at P22 for 250 grams, ketchup for P12 for 320 grams, and cheese food at P39 for 185 grams).
Had Bedilla stuck to the leading brands, her bill would have amounted to P225.15 (spaghetti at P90 per kilo, spaghetti sauce at P71.90 per kilo, cheese at P63.25 for 185 grams).
"OK lang kahit hindi kilalang brand. Nasa luto naman ang magpapasarap sa pagkain," Bedilla said.
Grocery owners reiterated that consumers would even be able to save more if they shop early and not wait until Christmas is just days away. -- Report from Apples Jalandoni, ABS-CBN News