September 7, 2021

The Philippine government will continue to ensure a stable food supply to ease prices of fish, vegetables, and pork and address the recent uptick in inflation, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that the headline inflation rate increased to 4.9 percent in August 2021 from 4.0 percent in July 2021. This is at the upper end of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ forecast range of 4.1 to 4.9 percent for August 2021. Despite this increase, the year-to-date inflation remained at 4.4 percent.

Food inflation continued its uptrend at 6.9 percent in August from 5.1 percent in July. In particular, fish inflation accelerated to 12.4 percent from 9.3 percent, while vegetable inflation rose to 15.7 percent from 5.0 percent due to the impact of the southwest monsoon and onset of the rainy season.

Meat inflation slightly increased to 16.4 percent in August from 16 percent in July. However, on a month-on-month basis, meat inflation slowed down to -0.4 percent suggesting some price stabilization. In particular, retail prices of frozen and fresh pork have fallen by around PHP 19 to 38 per kilo from their peak, following the issuance of Executive Order Nos. 133 and 134. Rice inflation also remained negative at -0.4 percent year-on-year, following the issuance of Executive Order No. 135.

“We are beginning to see the impact of our proactive interventions to ease food prices, especially pork and rice. The government will continue to adjust and strengthen its policies to ensure that the people have access to affordable food amid the pandemic,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua.

At the same time, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is intensifying its hog repopulation program to address the supply gap in domestic production and address the elevated pork inflation.

Meanwhile, to ensure stable fish supply, the DA issued Administrative Order No. 22, approving a Certificate of Necessity to Import (CNI) fish of 60,000 metric tons up to December 31, 2021. The DA is also preparing to increase the CNI should the initial imports not be sufficient to curb fish inflation. This is part of the government’s proactive monitoring to ensure sufficient supply and stable prices during the closed fishing season.

To support vegetable production, the government will further promote urban agriculture and backyard gardening. Under these initiatives, the government will provide raw material resources, machinery and equipment, training and technical assistance, resiliency projects, and funding support.

Chua added that as granular lockdowns are implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19 due to the Delta variant, we should keep enabling key sectors of the economy to operate and ensure essential goods and services reach consumers.

“Keeping transportation available and affordable, while still following minimum public health standards, will help facilitate the movement of people, goods, and services. All these will allow people to safely earn income and keep prices stable,” he said.