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Business

Pork producers against extension of pork imports

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Local pork producers are against the government’s proposal to extend the expanded quota on pork imports until the end of the year, emphasizing that the measure was ineffective in the past year.

In a Viber message to The STAR, Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines Inc. president Rolando Tambago said that while the intention of bringing in massive imported pork at highly reduced tariff via Executive Order (EO) 133 and 134 is mainly to reduce retail price, it did not happen.

He said that this approach is not solving the problem.

“Yes, we understand that there is an existing supply gap  due to devastation of ASF (African swine fever) on major areas of Luzon, causing pork prices to rise, but the solution should be geared towards massive local pork production to match the supply gap – this is a more sustainable approach than relying on imports,”he said.

In an economic bulletin last week, Finance Undersecretary and chief economist Gil Beltran said President Duterte should enforce EO 133 for 2022 to avert any potential spikes in pork prices that may spur inflationary pressures.

Duterte issued  EO 133 in May last year, which increased the minimum access volume (MAV) for pork meat to 254,210 MT for 2021.

The country’s food inflation jumped by 5.5 percent last year from 2.8 percent in 2020 as supply of meat and fish tightened. Meat prices rose by 16.8 percent, the highest among food items since 2012, due to the impact of ASF on hog production.

Beltran said meat alone accounted for 1.1 percentage points increase in the 2021 inflation of 4.5 percent. He pointed out that if only meat prices went up by about half of the actual record, the inflation target of two to four percent would be hit.

“Had meat price inflation been half as high, the upper level of the (two to four percent) inflation target range would not have been breached,” he said.

In an earlier report, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) said that while pork prices  declined in the months following the issuance of the additional MAV and lower tariffs, prices began to rise again in November. It cited that pork belly prices registered a low of P341 a kilo in October.

Market monitors from the DA, however, showed that the prevailing price of pork belly in Metro Manila markets rose to P380 a kilo as of Dec. 31. In addition, pork kasim or pork ham prices registered at P330 a kilo.

The USDA attributed the rise to several factors such as high gasoline prices, increasing demand towards the Christmas holiday season; and policies that prevented the full utilization of pork MAV and disruptive meat labeling requirements.

As of Friday, data showed that the price of pork belly remained at P380 per kilo in markets in Metro Manila, while pork kasim prices went up from its year end prevailing price to P340 a kilo.

Sought for comment on the DOF’s proposal on extending EO 133, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the DA is evaluating  all options to bring down pork prices.

Meanwhile, National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc. president Chester Warren Tan opposed proposals to extend EO 133 due to the ineffectiveness of the policy.

“It doesn’t seem good to continue it because it did not help local producers, at the same time, it didn’t help consumers, which is the purpose of EO 133,” Tan said.

To bring down pork prices, he said the government should instead focus on providing support for local producers, especially commercial hog raisers.

“The help that the government can do is to not continue this EO 133,” Tan said, adding that local stakeholders may be encouraged to increase production once the policy is no longer being implemented.

He said that once local production increases, pork prices will definitely go down in the country.

Moreover, Tambago said the government should hold consultations with hog industry stakeholders on the proposed EO 133 extension.

EO

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