Imee: What Bite Is Left In The Ever-Shrinking Pandesal?

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Senator Imee Marcos has expressed worry that the staples of an ordinary Filipino’s breakfast and merienda will continue to shrink and no longer satisfy a groaning stomach.

Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on economic affairs, said consumers would surely balk at the three-peso increase that producers of pandesal and Tasty bread are asking for.

“With the way things are going, pandesal might just shrink to the size of a marble,” Marcos said.

“Rising raw material costs and operating expenses are forcing producers to increase their prices while customers’ budgets remain tight amid the pandemic,” she added.

In pushing for the three-peso increase in the prices of Tasty bread and pandesal, producers cited that the present Php35 per loaf and Php21.50 per 10-piece bag date back to 2016.

Marcos called on the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to consider a price freeze on raw material costs to ease the burden of neighborhood bakeries in particular.

The senator added that another solution would be to import flour on a government-to-government basis, but only for emergency use.

A longer-term solution would be to add value to bread by increasing its nutritional content as with the famous protein-enriched Nutribun in the 70’s, Marcos said.

“Like the Nutribun, bread can be made with locally available non-wheat flours from camote, cassava, monggo, squash, potato, and rice. It can further be protein-enriched with peanut and malunggay,” Marcos explained.

Cost comparisons for wheat-based flour in 2020 and 2022 showed the price of first-class flour rising from Php670 to Php970, all-purpose flour from Php900 to Php1,140, and third-class flour from Php600 to Php890.

The cost of LPG used for bread ovens also shot up from Php52 per kilogram in 2020 to Php65.15 today.

The costs of other bread ingredients also went up from Php2,386 to Php3,476 for a 40-kilogram pail of shortening, from Php2,100.15 to Php3,490 for a 45-kilogram pail of margarine, from Php2,200 to Php3,100 for a 50-kilogram bag of sugar, and from Php1,890 to Php2,200 for the same amount of brown sugar.

Milk products also reflected cost hikes of Php4,100 to Php5,700 for a 25-kilogram bag of skimmed milk powder, 1,820.16 to Php1,951.20 for 48 cans of evaporated milk, and Php2,566.56 to Php2,679.84 for the same quantity of condensed milk.

Only bread improver and instant dried yeast remained unchanged at Php1,500 and Php1,950 per case, respectively.