PHILIPPINES— While consumers are still grappling with the high prices of onions, the retail price of local garlic has increased to P400 per kilo even if there was no shortage of the pungent bulbs.
“We don’t have a shortage of garlic. We have a small supply of local garlic, a small supply as the preference of our consumers is the big [imported] garlic,” Department of Agriculture (DA) deputy spokesman Rex Extoperez told The Manila Times.
He said that the country is only producing four percent of its garlic requirement.
“I visited Occidental Mindoro and I found out that many garlic farmers shifted to onions as consumers prefer imported garlic,” he added.
Estoperez said the Philippine weather is not conducive to planting garlic.
“Some farmers in Occidental Mindoro tried to plant big garlic but the cloves did not grow, and they said it was because of the weather,” he said, adding the situation will be discussed during the DA meeting this week.
“We will tackle if we need to produce more local garlic or will just depend on importation,” he said.
Bureau of Plant Industry data said that the country’s garlic production in 2022 reached 45,656 metric tons compared to the 93,951 metric tons of imported garlic.
Meanwhile, the prices of onions remain high despite the efforts of the DA to make the bulb cheaper.
An official of the DA said on Wednesday that no consensus was reached on the price cap of onions during a meeting with stakeholders ordered by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
The official, who requested anonymity, blamed the onion farmers and importers for the failure to bring down the prices of onions.
“The retail prices of imported onions remain high and the farm gate price is also high. Farmers were saying the importation was not needed as it’s already the peak season but when is the peak season? For importers, where are the imported onions, the prices are still high?” the official said.
Prices of onions did not go down despite the 3,500 metric tons of imported onions flooding the market.
The retail price of imported onions ranged between P180 and P250 per kilo and local onions between P170 and P330 per kilo.
The DA official said onion farmers should not use their losses in previous years to justify high farm gate prices.
“They should adopt a certain percentage of the cost of production plus profit margin in the farm gate price,” he said.
Without specifying, the official said the reasons the importers mentioned were “unreasonable, illogical.”
“We will talk again with the farmers and importers to bring down the prices to benefit the consumers,” he added.
Earlier, Estoperez said the retail prices of onions will go down between P100 and P120 per kilo because of imported bulbs flooding the markets.
DA monitoring data said the retail price of imported red onions ranged between P180 and P220 per kilo; and imported white onions, between P180 and P250 per kilo.
The retail price of local red onions ranged from P200 to P330 per kilo and local white onions between P170 and P300 per kilo.
At Mega Q Mart in Quezon City, the retail price of onions ranged from P200 to 250 per kilo.
Onions were sold for as high as P330 per kilo at New Las Piñas City Public Market in Las Piñas.
The DA said the country’s annual onions consumption is estimated at 260,000 MT or 21,679 MT monthly.
At least 100,000 MT of onions were presumably wasted because of a lack of cold storage.
In 2022, a total of 283,172 MT of red and yellow onions, as well as shallots, were harvested locally from 29,728 hectares of production area.