The Philippines’ agriculture department is planning to import 22,000 tons of onions to boost domestic supply as surging prices have contributed to a 14-year high in inflation. The import proposal, which will be recommended to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for approval, is expected to help bring down prices for at least one month, according to Rex Estoperez, assistant secretary of the agriculture department.
Onion prices in the Philippines had reached as much as 650 pesos ($11.68) per kilogram for red onions and 600 pesos for white onions, around three times the price of chicken and 25% more expensive than beef.
The planned imports, which are intended as a temporary solution with no further imports currently planned, are expected to arrive no later than the first week of February. Half of the imports will be distributed in the main island of Luzon, with the remaining shipped to Visayas and Mindanao. Domestic onion harvests, which are continuing, are expected to peak from March to May, prompting the need to augment supply.
Onion is a key ingredient in Filipino cuisine and is widely used in many households alongside garlic. The price spike hit consumers particularly hard during the holiday season, with food taking center stage in many gatherings and prompting complaints on social media.
Onion and rice both contributed 0.3 percentage points to the Philippines’ overall inflation, according to National Statistician Dennis Mapa. Consumer prices in December rose 8.1%, reaching a 14-year high, up from 8% the previous month.