Lower rice prices starting June – NFA

Ralf Rivas
The average price of commercial rice is now at P40 to P43 per kilo, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority

RICE STOCK. Workers pile sacks of rice at a National Food Authority warehouse. Rappler file photo

MANILA, Philippines— The National Food Authority (NFA) assured consumers that rice prices will drop starting June, as 250,000 metric tons (MT) of rice from Vietnam and Thailand are expected to arrive next week.

“In the terms of reference for government-to-government (G2G) scheme, [rice should arrive] between May 31 and June 15,” said NFA spokesperson Rex Estoperez.

Estoperez previously admitted that there were lapses in the decision-making processes that led to the high prices of rice in the market.

However, he said there’s no room for “finger pointing for now,” and the agency “will prepare now for the lean months.”

The NFA currently has zero inventory of rice.

Private sector comes in

The agency opened the bidding for the second batch of 250,000 MT of imported rice on Tuesday, May 22, through government-to-private (G2P) scheme.

Twenty-one companies have expressed interest in participating in the bid. However, two companies from Vietnam and one from UAE withdrew.

Three companies failed to submit all of the required documents, but are expected to file a motion for reconsideration.

The G2G mode of procurement is generally cheaper compared to G2P. 

NFA Deputy Administrator Judy Carol Dansal said the agency opted to purchase from the private sector because “lean months is coming, it would be judicious for the NFA to procure immediately.”

The NFA is expected to announce the winners before the end of May. 

P6.5 billion has been allotted for the next importation. The agency is looking for a bidder that will offer less than the amount.

The agency has set $498.25 as the reference price. The lowest bids range from $461 to $469. 

Should all plans push through, the country will have 500,000 MT of rice that will last for 15 days.

Private dealers reign

Despite the upcoming replenishment of supply, the imports are still nowhere near President Rodrigo Duterte’s marching order to build up the rice buffer stock to last 60 days, equivalent to 1.9 million metric tons.

Estoperez previously admitted that the 60-day buffer stock would be “too much,” but vowed to comply with the directive of the President. 

For almost two months now, consumers have relied on private traders for the cheapest rice in the market amid the tight supply of the staple from the NFA.

Traders have volunteered to supply cheap rice in the market at P39 per kilo after Duterte ordered them to help the government.

However, that price is still far off the usual P25 to P30 per kilo of NFA rice consumers are used to.

The price is also quite close to the average rice prices in the market. As of the first week of May, the price of regular-milled rice climbed to P40.04 per kilo, while well-milled rice increased to P43.86 per kilo, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. 

Prices of regular-milled rice and well-milled rice have increased by 5.48% and 7.29%, respectively, from the same period last year. – Rappler.com