Customs in the Philippines have seized 18 containers of smuggled onions, which have become a rare delicacy in the country, concealed in a shipment of pizza dough.
The eye-watering bust took place at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) on Saturday, 11th March.
Newsflash obtained a statement from the Bureau of Customs (BOC) of the Philippines saying that the bust was the result of a tip-off from China, where the onions were from.
The BOC said: “The shipments are covered by several Bills of Lading and various goods declarations and are said to contain pizza dough and fishballs.”
The agency also said that the pizza dough used to hide the red and yellow onions did not have the right licences and permits.
Customs Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio said: “The BOC shall continue to maximize its intelligence resources and capabilities and intensify enforcement measures against unscrupulous importers and their cohorts to combat smuggling attempts, especially those involving agricultural goods which are inimical to our local farmers and businesses.”
The bust comes after senators criticised customs officials in January for shaming flight attendants for ‘smuggling’ onions into the country, saying they should have been focusing on real criminals.
There is reportedly a shortage of onions in the Philippines, with prices often higher than the cost of meat.
The staple ingredient, which is widely used in Filipino cooking, has become something of a symbol of the rising cost of living in the country.