Pork prices rise in Metro Manila ahead of price cap lifting
MANILA, Philippines — With only a few days left before the price ceiling on pork is lifted, prices in Metro Manila public markets on Monday already climbed to as high as P400 a kilogram, the Department of Agriculture (DA) reported.
Prices are expected to rise further in the coming days as hog raisers stage a pork holiday to protest President Rodrigo Duterte’s move to support the hike in the country’s pork imports.
Based on the DA’s daily Palengke Watch program, pork prices in public markets in Metro Manila hovered between P350 to P380 a kilo depending on the cut, against the imposed price cap of P270 and P300 a kilo.
The highest price quotation was recorded in Muñoz at P400 a kilo while the lowest was in Commonwealth at P350 a kilo.
For the past months, the price ceiling, set to be lifted on April 8, has drove meat resellers to switch to selling imported frozen pork that are more affordable, while hog raisers whose pigs were affected by African swine fever (ASF) turned their farms into fish pens or vegetable gardens as alternative livelihoods.
With the pork holiday and the declining population of swine in the country, industry groups said prices might go up further until the DA holds consultation with them.
Nicanor Briones, vice president of Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines (ProPork), said hog raisers were getting more restless with the government’s response to the spread of ASF in the country.
He added that more pork imports would hurt the local livestock industry in the long run as this would discourage hog raisers from reinvesting.
Last month, Duterte sent a recommendation letter to lawmakers supporting the increase in the country’s pork imports to 350,000 metric tons (MT) from 54,000 MT.
With the Congress still in recess, the letter would most likely turn to an executive order based on Section 6 of the rice tariffication law.
‘They are killing the industry’
“They are killing the local hog industry,” Briones said. “Rather than focusing on importation, the DA should incentivize hog raisers and encourage them to repopulate. They don’t understand what is happening on the ground. We will slowly run out of supply if this continues.”
Briones said several backyard raisers were not reporting swine fever outbreaks in their respective farms so they could still sell the infected pigs. This would be prevented if the indemnity given to hog raisers would be raised to P10,000 from only P5,000, he said.
Briones added that the DA must focus on stopping the spread of ASF, which remains to be the root cause of rising meat prices, declining pork supply and fewer hog raisers.
ProPork, as well as Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura and the National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc., continue to push for the construction of a first border facility at major ports.
According to industry estimates, only 30 percent to 35 percent of hog producers in Luzon have continued to operate since ASF crept into the region. In Visayas and Mindanao where swine fever cases have been fewer, about 90 percent of hog raisers remain active.
The number of sows or pigs used to repopulate were also slashed in half to 500,000 from the pre-ASF level of 1 million.
The DA maintained that pork importation was the most immediate way to rein in the exorbitant prices in the market. It also recommended a reduction in pork tariffs from a high of 40 percent to as low as 5 percent for the next 12 months.
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