Considered to be the convenient choice for hungry budget-conscious students, Fidel Reyes Street, more prominently known as Agno, has occupied a special place in the hearts of Lasallians.
The area is famous for cheap prices being offered by the various food establishments in the area. It, however, remains to be seen whether Agno has maintained its reputation amid the recent rise in food and oil prices.
Justification for price increase
Last academic year, there was a five-peso drop in all food prices, but the decrease was short-lived as prices quickly returned the usual 55 peso mark (price of basic meal in Agno). At the start of classes, prices have once again gone up by five pesos. The consecutive increase has garnered mixed reactions among patrons.
In a survey conducted by The LaSallian, 56 percent out of exactly 100 correspondents think that the price increase is not justified.
“Hindi justified ang increase kasi kumakaunti ang serving”, James Matthew Chua (III, ECE) explains.
Nevertheless the remaining 44 percent perceive the increase as reasonable, without the quality of food being sacrificed.
As Philip Natividad (III, MKT) sees it, “I think the price increase of the food is justified because compared to other establishments outside DLSU, their prices are obviously lower. And I do not think that their food quality is sacrificed because last time I ate there, the food was just the same.”
Curbing customer dissatisfaction
Although Agno is also known for the cheap rental fees offered to food stalls, a 30 percent increase has pushed vendors to adopt strategies that would mitigate the negative effects on profits.
Known to many as Kuya Alvin, the latter has been serving Ate Rica’s famous Bacsilog to students for 10 years. He believes that the price hike is needed. According to him, the increase could also be attributed to the rise in the prices of significant raw materials. He points out, however, that the increase does not necessarily fair well with the students.
Given the current scenario, Juliet and Arc, the owners of Pongkizz, devised incentives to maintain the influx of customers. The option of pasta together with a rice meal is one of the measures employed and spearheaded by the food establishment. Juliet explains that since extra rice has always been a trend, the owners thought that perhaps an extra serving of pasta would be viable. A meal of one viand and a topping of pasta would cost sixty pesos, while a meal of two viands and the pasta would cost seventy-five pesos. One may view this as a strategy to compensate for the increase and to encourage customer confidence.
While Juliet admits that coming up with these alternatives helped in stabilizing their income amid the price increase, for Beng of Caric’s, establishing a good relationship with students is still paramount to maintaining business. Thus, the dilemma of increasing prices and sustaining the trust of customers looms.
For four years now, Food Sents Enterprises Incorporated has managed the food stalls in Agno. Owner Loumar Salvador points out that the company regularly increases the rental fees of the stalls due to the increasing price in raw materials. Yet, the company sees to it that it does not adversely affect the sales of its clients.
“We increase the rent every three years but our prices are still relatively lower than other food establishments in the area. Last year, we didn’t push through with a rent hike,” Salvador shares in Filipino.
The agreement is that the price of the rent cannot increase as long as they [food vendors] are under the renewable one-year contract, but the owners can dictate the prices by themselves. Nevertheless, the management still provides alternatives to these price hikes that are beyond their control.
“Kami lang yung may option na pwede dalawa yung ulam, 75 pesos lang, may rice, may pasta pa. Pagkatapos, kapag ang estudyante nagdala ng baunan, bawas five pesos iyon. Nagbibigay kami ng discounts para naman may gana silang bumalik,” Salvador adds.
When asked if future price hikes would discourage them from buying in Agno, 52 percent of student respondents said that they would still frequent the place.
“You can always buy food there in an instant. Agno provides almost every kind of food you would like to eat. Increasing prices is just normal and it still depends on our economy and the price of raw materials. So you can’t blame them for that,” Danica Azares (III, ECE), expresses.