DTI to run after SRP violators, greenlights pork imports in Feb amid shortage

Nika Lazo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 19 2021 07:22 PM | Updated as of Jan 19 2021 08:53 PM

A pork vendor at Commonwealth market. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it is running after vendors who violate suggested retail prices (SRP) for food products.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a press briefing hosted by the Department of Agriculture (DA) on Tuesday that the DTI and DA are running after vendors who violate SRPs, causing "unjustified hikes" in food prices.

"In our latest report, we issued around 1,070 letters of inquiry to violators of the SRP of the DA and DTI, asking them to justify how and why did they end up with those prices," Lopez said.

"For our show cause orders, we have 31 issued, and we have issued 274 notices of violation," he added.

Prices of pork soared to as high as P380 to P400 a kilo in Metro Manila public markets, beyond the P225 SRP.

Likewise, chicken now costs P200 per kilo, which is P70 more than the SRP.

Farm gate prices of agricultural products rose the past few months due to lower supply amid the African swine flu and the impact of typhoons.

Lopez said investigations are ongoing to track excessive price hikes either from distributors, retailers, or other middlemen during trading.

"We are doing inspections to warehouses within the areas where there is artificial shortage. We involve agencies with intelligence funds to investigate warehouses if they are hoarding," he said.

Importation of pork starting Feb. 1

Agriculture Assistant Secretary Noel Reyes said in the same briefing that starting February 1, the Philippines will import 54,000 metric tons of pork from the US and European countries to address the lack of supply of pork.

He noted that over 4 million supply of hogs were lost due to the African swine flu -- 400,000 died of the flu, while the rest resulted from hog raisers opting not to raise hogs amid the flu.

Lopez said they have temporarily allowed the increase in importation to ensure that there is no shortage of food products.

"We are supporting the DA...If local producers can't meet the demand, we allow importation so that the supply can catch up to the consumers' demand," Lopez said.

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