Philippine authorities are hitting illegal vegetable imports from two angles this season, tightening up on smuggling as the country approaches the holiday season, and allowing in extra legal supplies to fill a local supply gap.
The Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) announced on Friday it had seized more than P7m (US$170,000) worth of misdeclared Chinese vegetables at the Manila International Container Port.
“BOC seizes misdeclared vegetables worth P7.5 million. Carrots were misdeclared as apples, potatoes as houseware,” Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon published on his Twitter account, along with a picture of the seized carrots.
Demand for vegetables is expected to rise in the Philippines during the holiday season, reported GMA News.
But extra supplies of red onions from China and India have also been allowed in by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) over the past two months to fill a shortage before the new local season begins.
The imports are serving as a short term relief supply, explained Vegetable Importers and Exporters Association president Leah Cruz.
“The importation is only good for 20 days. Just so that consumers will have something to go by until the early `onion` harvest starts coming in,” Cruz told local media.
BPI granted the permits for 8,500 tonnes of imports in October, but onions only began arriving in late November, lowering local prices of onions at P50-60 per kg compared to a high in October-November of P130 per kg, reported the Manila Standard.