Retail prices of rice continued to inch up for the fifth straight week in the first week of July, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said in a report.
With just a little over two weeks into the lean season, the average price of rice for both farmgate and retail markets is expected to increase further as the government scrambles to fill up its buffer stocks through importation.
In its palay price update, the PSA said that the average price of palay for the first week of July reached P19.35 per kilogram, up by 3.41 percent compared to the level a year ago of P18.71/kg.
The average wholesale price of well milled rice at P38.81/kg was higher by 0.82 percent than the level in the corresponding week a year earlier. The average retail price of well milled rice at P41.83/kg during the same period inched up by 0.65 percent.
“Upward adjustments for both wholesale and retail prices of regular milled rice continue,” the PSA said.
The average wholesale price of regular milled rice at P35.07/kg increased by 1.20 percent from the year ago quotation of P34.65/kg. Likewise, the average retail price of regular rice at P37.74/kg showed a price increment of 1.42 percent from the same week in the previous year.
Prices of rice in the previous year were relatively higher compared with the previous years following the El Niño episode that hit major rice producing provinces.
Manila is expecting about 250,000 metric tons of additional rice stocks from abroad between August and September. The volume will add eight more days to the already depleted stocks held by the National Food Authority (NFA).
The NFA was created with the aim of protecting the interests of both rice producers and consumers. As such, the agency’s primary mandates are to stabilize the prices of rice and to ensure food security.
But with very limited stocks to work around in the coming weeks before the imported rice arrive, the NFA will have a hard time controlling market prices as government-owned stocks are now allotted for emergency purposes only.
At present, the state-run grains agency only has four days worth of rice, with regional offices restricting releases in retails markets.
The private sector-led importation through the minimum access volume (MAV), on the other hand, has yet to be approved. But the NFA said that the arrival of the rice, allotted for commercial use, is programmed between December 2017 and January 2018.
MAV imports, which totaled 805,000 metric tons (MT) translate to about 26 days worth of rice.
Despite prices inching up, the government claims that the total rice stocks in the country are still at comfortable levels with 32 days for household stocks and 38 days for commercial stocks.