Meat processors see P40-B losses from ASF scare
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - October 14, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The local meat processing industry expects to lose as much as P40 billion for the coming holiday season as the government has yet to finalize guidelines on the ban of processed meat in some areas following the rising cases of African swine fever in the country.

The Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI) said its members continue to face difficulties in transporting and entering several provinces even with the Christmas season just around the corner as more local government units have banned pork products.

Visayas and Mindanao  contribute roughly 35 percent or about P100 billion to the P300-billion local meat processing industry. This includes processing, restaurants and fastfood chains dependent on pork products.

“It is already the peak season and it is that time of the year with the highest demand for our products and yet we cannot bring in our products because of the ban. We are seeing P40 billion in losses of sales,” PAMPI vice president Jerome Ong told The STAR.

“About 55 provinces have either total or conditional ban in Visayas and Mindanao including some parts in Northern Luzon. Even those provinces that did not impose ban, we are having a hard time entering because we had to pass through those areas that are banning the products,” he added.

ASF is now confirmed in 21 areas in Luzon particularly in Bulacan, Rizal, Pampanga and Quezon City. So far, about 36,000 hogs have been lost due to ASF.

Majority of Visayas and Mindanao have already issued executive orders prohibiting the entry of pork and pork products.

PAMPI already wrote appeal letters to governors but they have yet to hear from them. Even Agriculture Secretary William Dar and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez have exerted efforts to appeal to local government units but to no avail.

“We already need the blessing of President Duterte, an order from him so the LGUs will follow. We understand that they have the right to protect their provinces but what we need is a unified guidelines from the national government,” Ong said.

“We want it as soon as possible, of course but we know that the President is very busy but if this continues, it will result to a major economic catastrophe and the food security of the country will be jeopardized,” he added.

Ong said the group already sought the help of Malacanang even before President Duterte’s state visit to Russia last week but PAMPI has yet to get any response.

“But even if the ban gets lifted just a few weeks before Christmas, we already stopped production because of the uncertainty of whether we can sell or not. Producing processed meat is not done overnight,” he added.

PAMPI also warned that the industry might revisit their respective business plans and will likely result in layoffs if the situation will not improve.

For instance, the industry employs 10,000 additional seasonal workers every holiday but as of now, no hiring is happening because of the slow down in operations.

PAMPI is composed mainly of manufacturers of processed meat and suppliers from allied industries.

Founded in 1990, it has 83 member companies directly involved in food manufacturing, packaging, cold chain logistics and infrastructure.

The industry is estimated to generate an annual revenue of P300 billion and provides directly employment to some 150,000 people.

Last year, industry output was 871 million kilograms of processed meats.

 

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