Amid concerns of a potential rise in onion prices, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has announced that it will be conducting inspections of cold storage facilities this week, during which time the suggested retail price (SRP) for both red and white onions will be determined.

This comes after a recent cautionary statement from the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) that it is anticipated that the retail price of onions may surge to a range of P500 to P700 per kilogram. This escalation can be attributed to a sudden rise in the cost of onion bulbs.

Jayson Cainglet, the executive director of SINAG, said the upward trajectory of onion retail prices is expected to persist, with prices already soaring as high as P200 per kilogram.

During a teleradio interview, Assistant Secretary Kristine Evangelista, the spokesperson for the DA, explained that conducting inspections of cold storage facilities is part of their strategy to safeguard consumers.

“Kung hindi po bukas, sana by Wednesday. But the monitoring now is not only sa palengke, kundi pati po sa mga cold storages,” she said.

“Even the privately-owned [cold storages] shall be visited by the BPI (Bureau of Plant Industry), field inspectors of DA, alongside the PNP (Philippine National Police) and the CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group) to see the prices of onions, who have entered it, as well as the outflow,” she added in mixed English and Filipino.

The agriculture department previously announced the establishment of SRP for onions, with white onions priced at P140 per kilogram (kg) and red onions at P150/kg.

As of last Friday, the prevailing market prices for local red and white onions in Metro Manila were recorded to be within the range of P160 to P200 per kilo.

Evangelista also informed that certain traders have reached an agreement to establish a wholesale price for cold storage, subsequent to a stakeholders’ meeting.

Taking into account the farm gate price of onions, which ranges from P75 to P85 during the harvest season, the suggested retail price of P150 was established.

She added further that in order for retailers to effectively adopt the P150 market price, the cost of onions from cold storage should be in the range of P125 to P130.

“Kaya po ang sabi natin, ang wholesale na para sa cold storage, PHP115. Ito po ang napagkasunduan namin for the red and P100 for the white. ‘Yan po ang magiging basehan kung magkano naman dapat ibagsak sa palengke,” she said.

“Kung mataas po ang bigay sa inyo ng inyong mga suki, hindi kayo makasunod sa retail price, mayroon naman kaming pwedeng i-offer sa inyo na itong mga ito ay willing. So ito po ‘yung pamamaraan para wala tayong excuse para di makasunod,” she said.

Evangelista mentioned that multiple agencies are actively engaged in monitoring and coordination efforts to safeguard consumers from any potential exploitation or abuse.

In addition to establishing the SRP and coordinating with local government units, the DA has affirmed its commitment to exploring further measures to prevent price manipulation and implementing controlled importation. These initiatives encompass inspection activities aimed at ensuring fair market practices.

“Doon po natin makikita kung sino po ang kailangan ma-penalize sa pakikipagtulungan nga po ng ating local price coordinating council,” she said.