- Onions are now a luxury item in the Philippines.
- The price of onions soared to $12.80 (around R220) per kilogram in December, three times the price of chicken.
- Local authorities seized between $9 million and $11 million worth of smuggled onions in 2022.
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Onions are now so expensive in the Philippines that people are trying to smuggle them into the country.
Locally grown onions currently cost up to three times as much as chicken. According to the country’s Department of Agriculture, on January 9, onions were going for 600 pesos, or $11, per kilogram. Chicken could be bought at $4 per kilogram.
And that’s not even an all-time high: In December, the price of onions soared to more than $12.80 (around R220) per kilogram in Manila’s markets, per The Straits Times.
Compare that to mid-2021, at which point onions could be bought for $1.90 per kilogram, The Manila Times reported.
In light of the massively inflated costs, people are going to extreme measures to get their hands on onions.
Local authorities seized between $9 million and $11 million worth of smuggled onions in 2022, The Guardian reported. The stashes of onions were found concealed in boxes of clothing and household items.
In January, 10 crew members working for Philippine Airlines were accused of smuggling around 40 kilograms worth of onions and fruits into the country, per the BBC. The crew members — who were traveling on two separate flights from the Middle East — were caught during a bag check at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, per The Philippine Star. The airline staffers may now face criminal charges for not declaring the produce, a spokesman for the country’s customs bureau told The Philippine Star.
Onions are becoming a luxury item in the Philippines because of bad harvests
Experts say the onion price hike is due to a spate of bad weather in the country. The Philippines was hit by a series of typhoons and tropical storms in 2022, which damaged tens of billions of pesos worth of crops.
“Back in August, the Department of Agriculture had forecast a potential shortage of the root crop. A few months later, the Philippines was hit by two powerful storms that caused substantial crop damage,” Nicholas Mapa, a senior economist at ING Bank, told the BBC.
Restaurants and street food stalls in the country are also grappling with the rising prices. Rizalda Maunes, the owner of a pizzeria in Cebu City, told the BBC she has cut back on using the staple ingredient in her food.
“We used to buy three to four kilograms of onions a day. Now we buy half a kilo which is all we can afford,” Maunes said.
Inflation in the Philippines reached a 14-year high in 2022, the BBC reported. On December 6, the country’s national economic and development authority said it will put in place “subsidies and discounts to allay the impact of the higher prices of essential goods.”
But there might be some respite coming. The country’s president, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., in January approved the import of over 21,000 tonnes of onions to try to bring prices down, The Straits Times reported.
These imports could stabilize the price of the crop, Mapa, the economist, told the BBC.
“However the timing may be unfortunate as it coincides with the February harvest season for locally produced onions,” Mapa said. “Prices may actually drop dramatically once both harvest and imports hit the market almost simultaneously.”
Kaynak : https://www.businessinsider.co.za/philippines-onion-price-soars-smugglers-chicken-2023-1