Philippines: Onions cost more than chicken, are even being smuggled in

Philippines: Onions cost more than chicken, are even being smuggled in

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, consumer prices jumped 8.1 per cent in December last year. This is a 14-year high.

When customs officials are on the prowl to make a bust, you'd imagine illegal shipments of gold nuggets or silver pieces are on their radar. But the Philippines's government machinery is now on alert to crack down on smugglers trying to bring in, wait for it, onions! The price of the humble vegetable has gone through the roof, so much so that even chicken is cheaper.

According to the Philippines' Department of Agriculture, a kilogram of red and white onions was selling for 600 Philippine pesos ($11). This is nearly three times the value of chicken, which sold for 220 pesos ($4) per kg. The price of onions has exceeded the minimum daily wage in the country and this had made smugglers find a profitable, and illegal, niche.

CNN quoted Joey Salceda, resident economist at the Philippine House of Representatives, who said that the Philippines was the country with “world’s most expensive domestic onion prices.”

Philippines: Onions cost more than chicken, are even being smuggled in
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There were signs that such a situation will occur. A spate of super typhoons last year destroyed tens of billions of pesos worth of onion crop. In recent months, soaring inflation has gripped the country.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, consumer prices jumped 8.1 per cent in December last year. This is a 14-year high.

Amid suspicions of onion price manipulation, the authorities are going hard after the smugglers.

On December 23, customs officials seized USD 310,000 worth of white onions. The onions were concealed in clothing shipments. Just two days before that, red onions worth USD 364,000 were seized. These were being smuggled in pastry boxes.

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