'World's most expensive': Cartel behind onion price spike - Salceda


Posted at Jan 12 2023 10:17 AM

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Albay 1st District Representative Joey Salceda on Thursday blamed a cartel for the escalating prices of onions and other goods, saying onion prices in the Philippines are the highest in the whole world. 

Salceda said that aside from supply issues, smuggling could be behind the price spikes. 

"Obvious po yan kasi ang smuggling kung susundan mo talaga ang economics, pag dumami supply dapat bagsak presyo. So bakit umaakyat imbes na bumagsak?" he said in a TeleRadyo interview. 

(Smuggling, it's obvious. Because if we follow economics, once supply has increased, the price should go down but why is it rising when it should be decreasing?)

The congressman said a cartel intent on controlling onion prices first flooded the Philippine market with cheap onions, thereby discouraging local farmers from planting the product. 

The cartel then raised the prices after local supply of onions dwindled. 

Salceda said he has the names of several people allegedly running the smuggling ring of vegetables as well as meat. He did not reveal their identities but said they are mainly Chinese nationals. 

The House of Representatives is set to conduct a series of hearings on the issue starting Jan. 23.

"Nakafocus tayo sa presyo ng sibuyas dahil number 1 tayo sa buong mundo. Pinakuha ko lahat nang ano at talagang number 1 tayo diyan. May cartel talaga. That’s the only way to explain what's happening to the prices of onions, of the others," he added.

(We're focused on the prices of onions because we are number 1 in the whole world. I asked for all [the prices] and we are really number 1. There is a cartel.)

Onions, along with other vegetables pushed inflation upwards to 8.1 percent in December 2022. Vegetables alone posted a 32.4 percent inflation for the month, the highest since February 1999.

Onions continue to sell at around P500 to P600 per kilo, the Department of Agriculture earlier said, from a high of P700 per kilo during the holidays.


Aside from onions, Salceda also warned about the increase in smuggled pork and other meat products in the country. 

He noted that pork imports rose from 17,000 metric tons to 741,000 MT recently, with similar increases in beef and chicken leg quarters imports. 

"Baka umabot ng 53 billion ang pangkalahatan na smuggling traffic na pinag uusapan dito," he said. 

(We could be talking about P53 billion in overall smuggling traffic here.) 

Salceda warned that meat importers used to pay P800,000 per container when shipped through the Manila International Container Port. This has decreased to P100,000 per container when shipped via Subic. 

"'Yan ang kalakaran doon ngayon. Nandoon po lahat. It is the center of the universe, the center of gravity, it is not the haven but the heaven of smuggling right now in the Philippines," he said.