By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol has expressed dismay over local meat processors’ warning that the temporary suspension of pork importation from Germany could trigger price increases on meat products like bacon and hotdog.
“I am dismayed that our meat processors show more concern for the prices of hotdog and bacon than the possible devastation by the ASF of the P260-billion hog industry which provides livelihood to thousands of poor Filipino farmers,” Piñol said.
“The entry of the dreaded ASF into the country could lead to the collapse of our livestock industry and cause unquantifiable damage to our economy,” he added.
Germany, one of the Philippines’ top suppliers of affordable raw pork material, is the first country without African Swine Fever (ASF) banned from exporting pork and other pork products here because of heightened quarantine protocols against the deadly hog disease.
The ban was imposed after it was discovered that a shipment of pork supposedly from Germany was found to contain boxes of pork from Poland, which is one of the 18 countries with reported outbreak of ASF.
Given that Germany supplies more than 80 million kilograms of meat every year to the Philippines, such ban worried local meat processors as this could lead to shortage in pork supply and price increases.
To be specific, more than 600 kilos of pork products from Belgium and Poland — two countries infected by ASF since last year — have entered the country legally last week.
Based on its investigation, BAI found out that those that came from Poland was actually part of a shipment that came from Pro Food GmbH, a company based in Germany.
ProFood, an international trading company that import and export meat and meat products, seafood and vegetables, eventually admitted that it imported pork from Poland and part of this was shipped to the Philippines.
The company has an office here and in other countries, namely China, Netherlands, France, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brazil and South Africa.
BAI Director Ronnie Domingo said Pro Food has committed a serious violation, which warranted the suspension of entry of all pork shipments from Germany.
The DA is planning to conduct an investigation as to why Germany allowed the shipment of pork products to the Philippines knowing it contains pork products from ASF-hit Poland.
“When the German exporter, ProFood, co-mingled German pork with pork from Poland which is affected by ASF, and shipped this to the Philippines, the case brought to open other possible violations,” Piñol said.
“We have to conduct a thorough investigation to ensure that their system is safe,” he added.
If and when the investigation will show that the violation was confined to that particular export company, then the DA will take the proper measure to lift the ban on all German pork shipment, he further said.
“I am sure our German trading partners will understand because I know they would impose the same measure if the situation was in reverse,” Piñol said.
“We cannot close our eyes to this serious violation of Philippine quarantine protocols simply because we are concerned about a possible spike in prices of hotdogs and bacon. We urge our businessmen to momentarily make adjustments and source their pork imports from other countries which are free of ASF,” he added.
Germany, France, and Netherlands account for the 40 percent of the total imported pork supply of the Philippines.
Meanwhile, the DA also issued a memorandum this week on the temporary suspension of system accreditation for all German foreign meat establishments (FME) to export meat into the Philippines.
Aside from Poland and Belgium, the country has already closed its doors to pork products coming from other ASF-hit countries namely China, Hong Kong, Laos, Vietnam, Zambia, South Africa, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Mongolia, Moldova, Hungary, Latvia, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine.