Citing rising input costs and high demand, Swift Foods Inc. in the Philippines plans to raise the price of its chicken products before Christmas, The Manila Times  reported.

The increase comes even though the Philippines Department of Agriculture has set a non-binding price band for chicken that will last through the holiday season, putting the suggested retail price for whole dressed chicken between P135 and P145 per kilogram.

Luis Bernardo Concepcion, Swift Foods president and chief operating officer, said that imports mean there is no shortage of chicken on the market, but production costs remain high.

The Manila Times cites government projections that 8,000 metric tons of chicken will be imported through Jan. 31, 2010, mainly from the United States, Canada and Asia.

Swift owes about P83B to suppliers and about P36B to banks, Concepcion told The Manila Times, and plans to sell some of its real estate to pay these debts. It has also laid off 200 of 250 employees. The company plans to cut its debt to P300M by the end of 2010 and zero it out by the end of 2011, he said.

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