Pork retail prices continue to spike

Ehda M. Dagooc (The Freeman) - April 19, 2021 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Despite government efforts to control the rise of pork prices in the market, retail cost continues to climb.

This led the United Broilers and Raisers Association (UBRA) to reiterate its call to reconsider the implementation of tariff cut that now prevails under Executive Order (EO) 128.

“The EO 128 is totally useless as pork price is seen to remain expensive, and pork import has already skyrocketed by 150.7 percent to 110.419 million kilos in the first quarter of 2021 even without the tariff cut,” claimed UBRA president Jose Elias “Bong” Inciong in a statement.

“The stated purpose of EO 128 to bring down pork prices to affordable levels and dampen inflation will not happen,” he added.

Data from the Bureau of animal Industry (BAI) showed that even if a tariff cut has not yet been implemented, there was already a substantial increase of 150.70 percent or 66.376 million kilos in pork imports early this year.

This is from an import volume of 44.031 million kilos from January to March 2020 to 110.419 million kilos in the same period of 2021.

For prime cuts like bellies and pork cuts, the increase in pork imports has also been significant at 254 percent or from 10.719 million kilos in January to March 2020 to  38.024 million in the same period of 2021.

According to the statement, it is notable that the period accounted for started even prior to the onset of the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic lockdowns.

“Covid was not yet a major problem during the first quarter of 2020.  These increases in importation occurred without any cuts in tariff,” he emphasized.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) itself set a Suggested Retail Price (SRP) for imported pork  that is not really significantly cheaper than prevailing prices. The SRP for kasim is  P270 per kilo, and for liempo, P350 per kilo.

“If this is the expected retail price after reducing the tariff for pork, then there is no improvement in the situation of our  consumers.  Since there will be no significant change in retail prices, why forego badly needed revenues by reducing tariffs on imported pork?” said Inciong.  

UBRA asserted government should rather let tariff rate at 30 percent in-quota and 40 percent out-quota.

Meanwhile, the farmers’ group lamented that the current pork crisis is not only a result of the local hog industry’s contraction of African swine fever (ASF).

Rather, it is the natural consequence of the Philippine government’s intentional plan in the last 25 years to depend on importation and neglect its own Filipino farmers’ welfare.

According to Inciong while other countries took advantage of beneficial provisions of WTO’s (World Trade Organization) free market offer, the Philippine government just opened up its industries to exposure to cheap imports.

He further claimed that the government neglected its own farm sector by failing to implement WTO’s provisions for domestic support, trade remedies, and Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures.

“The Philippines, unlike other government interpreted this (market access) to mean only import liberalization. Domestic support is about production and consumer subsidies and by extension, even export subsidies.  This is an area where the Philippines has performed very poorly through the failure to implement laws like the AFMA (Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act),” he noted.

“The absence of a first border inspection area at customs is one of the most damning indication of the  disinterest of government in agriculture.  It is the reason ASF got inside our country,” Inciong concluded.

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