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NFA says rice price increases seasonal, more subdued this year

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Workers inside the NFA rice warehouse in Visayas Ave. Quezon City, Photo taken on September 11, 2014. -- BW FILE PHOTO

THE National Food Authority (NFA) said an uptick in rice prices is part of the normal operations of the rice market and is not due to lack of supply.

“We have adequate volume of industry-wide rice inventory at this time. The country’s rice stocks, at 1.944 million metric tons (MT), are good for 61 days based on the average national daily requirement of 31,462 MT,” the NFA said in a statement.

Rice varieties whose prices were observed to have increased for the past weeks by P1-P2/kilogram included premium, special and aromatic rice, or those with five to 15% brokens, and not the regular and well-milled varieties traditionally consumed by the majority of consumers.

The NFA also attributed high prices to the gradual depletion of low-priced stock held by traders and retailers.

“Traders are now milling and starting to sell their newly-harvested stock bought at higher ex-farm prices. This harvest season, for example, traders were buying palay from P18 to P24/kg. Thus, when processed into rice, the higher wholesale and retail prices will be passed on to retailers and consumers,” the grains agency added.

Also, the main harvest that started in late September is nearing conclusion and the lean months, when there is very little or no harvest — typically December to February — are set to kick in.

“A review of the past three-year period showed that rice prices indeed tend to register slight increases at this period, although this year’s increase is observed to be even lower than during the same period in previous years,” the NFA added.

Citing its own data, the grains agency said that in November 2014, the prices of regular-milled and well-milled rice were at P40.74 and P43.63/kg.; in 2015 — P38 and P42/kg; and in 2016 — P35.97 and P41.80.

This month, the average retail prices for regular and well-milled varieties were at P37 and P40/kg.

The NFA said it continues to sell at competitive levels to stabilize prices.

“We continue to sell low-priced NFA rice at P27 and P32/kilogram through our accredited retailers so that consumers will have an option to buy good-quality but lower-priced rice,” the NFA said, adding that rice prices are expected to “eventually settle down to its previous levels” as private-sector import shipments on Dec. 20. — Janina C. Lim

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