By Filane Mikee Cervantes

FOOD SECURITY. Fresh vegetables are sold at a Kadiwa store inside the Philippine Heart Center along East Avenue, Quezon City in this photo taken on June 9, 2023. Local research and analytics company Capstone-Intel Corp. on Friday released survey results showing that nearly 6 out of 10 Filipinos consider themselves food secure in the next six months. (PNA photo by Robert Oswald P. Alfiler)

MANILA – A late November survey showed nearly 6 out of 10 Filipinos consider themselves food secure at least for the next six months.

The Nov. 22 to 29 survey of local research and analytics company Capstone-Intel Corp. released Friday indicated that majority of the respondents or 59 percent described themselves as “very secured” or “secured” in terms of food security for the next six months.

Forty-two percent said they have some concern; 34 percent said they are neither secure nor insecure; 6 percent were insecure; and 2 percent very insecure.

The survey, which involved 1503 respondents nationwide, was conducted before the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) issued its November 2023 Consumer Price Index Report that showed that the country’s inflation had further slowed down to 4.1 percent in November, from 4.9 in October.

The pollster said that while a vast majority of Filipinos consider rice and grains as an integral part of their regular diet, around 62 percent of the respondents also perceived this food group incurred the highest price increases.

The next highest food group was fruits and vegetables at 37 percent, followed by meat and poultry at 35 percent, fish and seafood at 30 percent, dairy products at 12 percent, and processed foods at 11 percent.

In terms of weekly expenses, the pollster found that 46 percent of Filipino households spend PHP1,000 to PHP2500 on food purchases.

Capstone-Intel Research and Publications Director Ella Kristina Coronel said the study showed food represents a major household expenditure for most Filipinos, noting that stability in food costs is critical for family budgeting nationwide.

“Persistently elevated food inflation could rapidly push more households into financial distress without mechanisms to offset price pressures on key dietary necessities,” she said.

Coronel said that targeted policy interventions could help strengthen food security foundations nationwide.

She also suggested investing further in cereal crop productivity, supply chain infrastructure, price stability measures, and agricultural risk mitigation, as these could pay dividends for both farmers and consumers in the long run.

According to the PSA, the country’s headline inflation further eased to 4.1 percent in November this year, lower than the 8 percent posted in the same month last year and the 4.9 percent registered in October this year.

PSA data showed the downtrend was primarily brought about by the lower year-on-year growth rate of the heavily-weighted food and non-alcoholic beverages at 5.7 percent in November 2023 from 7 percent in October.

Food inflation slowed to 5.8 percent, the lowest recorded since the 5.2 percent in May 2022.

This is due to the deflation in vegetables (-2 percent from 11.9 percent) and lower inflation of fish, meat, sugar, bread and other cereals, and fruits.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has attributed the drop in inflation to the timely implementation of strategies to stabilize food supply amid the anticipated domestic and external headwinds in the coming months.

“With the right interventions in place, including the proper and timely deployment of trade policy, we are confident that we can effectively manage inflation and prevent unnecessary upticks in prices of goods and commodities to safeguard the purchasing power of Filipino families, especially those from the most vulnerable sectors,” NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said. (PNA)