‘What’s next?’: Questions aired amid reported sardines, salt supply shortage

September 8, 2022 - 9:13 PM
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Composite shows vendor arranging fish for sale at the Q-Mart market in Quezon City and a salt farmer collecting dried salt from the remaining salt beds of Barangay Sta. Isabel in Kawit, Cavite (Jesse Bustos/The Philippine STAR; Edd Gumban/The Philippine STAR)

Filipino consumers aired their grievances against the price increase in commodities, particularly sardines and salt.

The concerns came after Canned Sardines Association of the Philippines (CSAP) raised alarm over the possible shortage of sardine products should the supply of “tamban,” mainly used for production, remain low. 

In a text message to The STAR, CSAP executive director Francisco Buencamino said their “catch data does not align with BFAR reports.

“Maybe, there is plenty of sardines in municipal waters for the wet market. There is not enough in commercial waters for canneries,” Buencamino said. 

Despite this claim, the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) on Wednesday assured consumers that the country has a sufficient supply of sardines.

Fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas, on the other hand, said the shortage claim of big fishing firms and canneries is allegedly being “fabricated” to increase the retail prices of canned sardines and to push for their vessels’ entry into municipal waters.

READ: Fisherfolk warn of fake sardine shortage

Some Filipinos found the contradicting statements on sardine supply confusing.

“BFAR says no shortage. Manufacturer’s say there is. Which is which? This is also happening in other agricultural commodities,” a Filipino wrote on Facebook.

Amid the varying remarks on sardine supply, the Department of Trade and Industry’s suggested retail price for canned sardines in tomato sauce increased by 6%, according to its latest price bulletin. 

Buencamino attributed the price increase to the higher cost of prices of steel plates used in sardines packaging.

Salt price hike

Meanwhile, aside from the sardines price hike, the retail price of salt also recently increased. The price hike was reportedly the first in years.

A kilogram of rocksalt now costs P23 from P21.50 last year, while the iodized salt price increased from P25.75 in 2021 to P29 this year. The figures are from DTI’s data.

Ironic?

The supply chain woes and the increase in the prices of commodities left Filipinos frustrated as they found it ironic.

They lamented how these commodities are getting expensive and are being imported despite the country having its own resources.

“The irony: a country of islands, surrounded by salt water, will import salt,” historian Kristofer Pasion wrote

“Even salt we’ll be importing? Will this give a new meaning sa ‘magdildil sa asin?’ Elitista kana kahit nagdidildil ka sa asin kasi imported,” a Twitter user said in jest. 

“Bakit lahat na lang shortage, ano? Ngayon naman sa sardinas. Bakit tayo nagkukulang sa sardinas, ang dami nating dagat?” statistician Peter Cayton asked. 

Others are not convinced about the supposed shortage in salt and sardine supplies.

“Ows? Nung kasagsan nga ng pamimigay ng mga delata nung pandemic di naging issue yan. Sangkatutak pa nga stock namin ng sardinas dito,” a Facebook user said.

Some are asking what could be the next shortage as it seems to be a “trend.”

“Ano kaya next na mag-shortage?” a Facebook user asked.

“Pati sa dagat shortage na din asin, isda ..ano sunod?” another asked.

“Puros na lang shortage sardinas na nga lng shortage pa, susunod naman yn sabon panlaba naku lahat na yan,” a Facebook user commented.

“Ano short na naman? Baka next week daing na naman ang short hayyy nako,” another asked with angry emojis.

Aside from the worries over salt and sardines supplies, some Filipinos previously expressed frustrations and concern over recent reports on shortages of garlic and onion. 

DA has projected that local farm output of onions and garlic will not be enough to meet the expected demand until the last quarter of the year. 

READ: ‘Walang guisado?’: Garlic, onion shortage makes Filipinos cry

Plans for the salt industry

Meanwhile, addressing the woes in salt supply, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles in a tweet said that the DA and other state agencies have initial plans to modernize the salt industry, which she described as “long neglected.”

Angeles said the agriculture department would implement programs and initiatives to boost salt production and supply. BFAR will also lead research and development initiatives on salt production and assist marginal and artisanal salt makers.

READ: DA sets measures to boost local salt production