Why onion is so expensive in the Philippines
Onion is the new Gold (Image courtesy of The Manila Times)

Right after the Holidays, the Philippines is experiencing a sudden price surge in the most used spice in the world, ONION. Currently, onions are priced (per kilo) twice or thrice the amount for pork and chicken in the market. Here are the top 3 reasons why onion is becoming even more expensive in the Philippines right now.

As a staple spice, Asians, especially Filipinos are accustomed to adding onions to every dish. May it be deep fried, stir fried, soup, steamed, grilled, or absolutely anything else, onions must always come with it.

When supply does not meet the demand, it’s going to be catastrophic

Everyone understands that supply is and always will be relative to demand. It’ basic economics folks. With the current conundrum Philippines is facing, the shortage of supply of onions is definitely the real culprit of the price hike.

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As early as August of last year, the Department of Agriculture that the supply of onion is diminishing and the country might be in great need of the product by 2023, which is exactly what is happening right now. According to the farm group called Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (or SINAG), the government could have imported onions a few months back to prevent this problem.

“Dapat nag-angkat na tayo ngayon. If hindi tayo umangkat after 10 days pa baka mag-spill over na ito by January, hindi na makakatulong ito,“ SINAG president Rosendo So told CNN Philippines last December 2022.
When translated in English: “We have to import now. If we don’t, after 10 days, it might spill over by January and this will not help.”

Yesterday, President Marcos has already approved importation of onions to help solve the onion crisis.


Price manipulation and global inflation? You don’t say!

Truly, opportunists always strike while the iron is hot. As of today, the price range of a kilo of onion is between Php 700 to Php 800 (about $12-14). The suggested retail price – according to DA – was actually only Php 250 per kilo ($4.5). Remarkably, onions in the Philippines is now the most expensive when it comes to domestic price, worldwide.

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It’s evident that there is an on-going price manipulation in the market, just right under our noses. Top that with the global inflation we are experiencing right now, it’s the perfect formula to heavily increase the price of onions.


To no surprise, hoarders and smugglers have entered the conversation. Onion is becoming a spice cartel product now!

What’s happening right now feels like “Breaking Bad”, but instead of Meth, it’s onion.

As the country is badly in need of onions, it’s not very shocking that hoarders, smugglers, and illegal traders have jumped in on the bandwagon. Just last month, the Philippine Customs confiscated illegal shipment of onions worth hundreds of thousands of dollars or equivalent to millions of Phlippine Pesos.

Smuggled onions in the Philippines
Photo Courtesy of CNN Philippines

In December 21, an illegal cargo from China containing $364,000 worth of red onions were found by the Customs. Two days after that, another shipment worth $310,000 of the spice disguised as clothing merch was also discovered and confiscated.

However, President Ferdinand “Bong Bong” Marcos wants to use the confiscated onions and sell it to ease the problem.


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Sources: CNN Philippines
John Micheal (sometimes called JM or Mike) has been writing various types of professional articles for almost 2 years now. He is an avid sports fan and has been following the NBA since the early 2000s. He also loves playing a lot of video games like DotA 2, Valorant, but MMOs have a special places in JM's heart. Not only is he a huge fan of basketball and video games, he also loves movies and tv shows. He is a huge MARVEL and MCU fan plus he is into a lot of superhero stuff.