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Flour millers to cut prices by up to P13 a bag

By Abigail L. Ho
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:27:00 09/14/2008

Filed Under: Food, Local authorities

MANILA, Philippines?After the oil firms reduced the prices of their gasoline, diesel and kerosene products last Friday, local flour millers said they will cut flour prices by P9 to P13 starting Sunday.

The Philippine Association of Flour Millers said its members would be bringing prices of 25-kilogram bags of flour back to March levels, or to P946-P957 for hard flour and to P847-P858 for soft flour.

?We have decided to roll back the price of flour to help the government stabilize the prices of basic food commodities. We feel that it is essential that the private sector lends the government a helping hand during trying times,? the group said in a statement.

Millers participating in the price reduction are Delta Milling Corp., General Milling Corp., Liberty Flour Mills, Morning Star Milling Corp., Pilmico Foods Corp., Philippine Flour Mills, Philippine Foremost Milling Corp., RFM Corp., San Miguel Mills Inc., Universal Robina Corp., and Wellington Flour Mills.

Last month, millers jacked up the prices of hard flour to P955-P970 and of soft flour to P850-P870 a bag, due mainly to the rise in wheat costs in June.

It takes three months from the time of purchase for wheat to be processed into flour because of the shipping time from the United States, the local flour producers? main supplier.

According to the Department of Trade and Industry?s weekly price monitor, the price of hard flour ranged from P960-P980 a bag in the first week of the month.

In an earlier interview, Trade Undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya said flour millers could be slapped with profiteering charges if they could not justify the sudden surge in the price of flour.

She said ?something substantive? would have to come from the flour millers, including individual submissions by each company of the prices at which they bought imported wheat.

If the flour millers would be unable to submit any proper explanation, she said the DTI could tap third parties to look into the books of these companies.

Meanwhile, she said the DTI would be meeting with bakers to ask them to justify the increase in the prices of loaf bread by P1.50 and of pan de sal by 10 centavos apiece, which will take effect today.

The price adjustment, according to the bakers, was necessary because of the increase in flour prices by as much as P50 a bag.

?They need to show us their (purchase orders), to show that they bought it at that higher price. We?re appealing to millers now to temper the increase in flour prices, but if they?ve already moved, then we can?t stop the bakers from increasing their prices also,? she said.

?We also need to understand the plight of the bakers. They have to also be in a situation where they will not lose money because many of them may have to close shop, especially the small ones,? she added.



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