Rice retailers’ revenues down by 30%

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /11 July) — The Confederation of Grains Retailers Association of the Philippines (Grecon)-Davao on Friday said the revenues of rice retailers in Davao Region have dropped by 30 percent since two weeks ago, following reports on “fake” rice penetrating the local market.

Pablo Gonzales Jr., Grecon-Davao president, told the Kapihan sa PIA at NCCC Mall Davao on Friday that local consumption might have slightly plunged as the group earlier encouraged residents to consume whatever is left of their stock at home, pending laboratory analysis done by the National Food Authority (NFA) and Food Development Center (FDC).

The NFA findings showed the rice samples were not fake but tested for contaminants such as dibutyl phthalate, a non-food grade chemical that serves as a binder for food packaging and softens the plastic. The chemical is also found in nail polish.

“Both samples were also scanned for contaminants; the NFA (rice) had none while the suspected fake rice matched (a 90 percent likelihood) for the presence of dibutyl phthalate,” the briefer added.

The rice retailers’ group is not discounting the possibility that it could be an economic sabotage just to put Davao City in bad light.

None of its 232 members in Davao Region has reported on “fake” rice, although they are encouraged to report if there is a any suspicious supply.

Gonzales added that Davao City has sufficient supply of rice.

According to NFA 11, the city has so far 500,000 bags of rice, each weighing 50 kgs, while the daily consumption is estimated at 10,000 bags.

For her part, NFA 11 director Dianne Silva said the contamination of dibutyl phtalate might have been due to improper food handling.

“Mao na ang possibility na amo gina-tanaw karon nga ang problema naa sa food handling (That’s one possibility that we are currently looking at. The problem could be in the food handling),” she said.

She urged local consumers not to panic because it is not conclusive yet whether the “fake” rice has penetrated the markets here.

Prices of rice have not been affected, despite reports on alleged “fake” rice. For a kilo of well-milled rice, the average price remains the same at P39 since last month; same goes for regular rice priced at P35.50 since last month. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)