On your usual grocery day, you want to cook sinigang for lunch, and you stumble upon a kilo of onions and a kilo of meat. To your surprise, the onion price in the Philippines
is higher than meat!
The Philippines is facing a national conundrum on the price of onions as inflation takes a toll on this concern. Onions are essential in almost every Filipino dish or viand, and this unusual price hike causes a problem for a typical Filipino.
As of January, onions are at PhP600 per kilogram per an agriculture department’s research of the onion price range in Manila. Devastatingly, a kilo costs more than the minimum wage of a Filipino employee. Some critics even point out that it’s like ‘gold’ here in the country.
Yoorekka dives deep into this problem with these five reasons why onions are so expensive!
1. Onion prices in the Philippines may stem from the effects of inflation.
Soaring white onion prices in the Philippines might be beyond the government’s control due to global inflation. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, 14-year high inflation in the Philippines was recorded last December 2022. In the Philippines, onion prices scoped 0.3% of the 8.1% rate in the prices of consumer goods, declared by National Statistician Dennis Mapa during a briefing.
2. Smuggled Onions
Onions are considered a commodity in the Philippines, and news sources have discovered that these are being smuggled. Smuggling affects revenue loss because of uncollected dues of tariffs. Since the demand for onions also increased, smugglers sold onions at unreasonably high prices. The hoarding of red onions has also been a significant factor in the high costs of onions in the Philippines.
During the past months, the Department of Agriculture tells a news source that the government has been making ways to track down smugglers and illegal traders, but the problem still persists. Fortunately, the government has responded to this cause through the initiatives of Senator Sherwin Gatchalian in creating a task force to tackle smuggling. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. also hoped to sell the smuggled and illegally obtained onions to address the low supply problems. Marcos has also approved the importation of tons of onions recommended by the Department of Agriculture, which the president also spearheads.
3. Price mishandling
Philippine authorities suspected internal manipulations on the retail prices of onions to compete with the market. However, Philippine authorities have also issued an open investigation to analyze the problem of soaring onion prices in the Philippines.
4. External factors
Other than the inflation conundrum, external factors like the Russian-Ukraine war, super typhoons that hit the country, climate change, and supply chain snags affect the prices and supply of food commodities, which also affects onion prices in the Philippines. Knowingly, the Philippines is a tropical country, and during the past months, heavy rains have negatively affected crops, disrupting their growth.
5. Plans and strategies not working; supply projections might be inaccurate
The business sector points the finger at the agricultural department for failed supply projections despite being warned. Possible garlic and onion shortages have been forecasted, and back then, red onions cost only around PhP14. The agricultural department resisted importations, believing the actual supply would be enough.
Even the Philippine farmers have warned that the existing supply would be insufficient since there is an expected high demand during the holiday season.
Ultimately, you will still have no choice but to put onions in your sinigang and the rest of your favorite Filipino dishes. Still, let us hope for the best that these top reasons why onion prices in the Philippines are high will slowly diminish so that we can all happily buy onions without tiring our pockets.
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