By Madelaine B. Miraflor
The country’s pork production is expected to “fall sharply” next year due to the deadly African swine fever (ASF) while meat imports could rise substantially.
Data from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) showed that by next year, pork production in the Philippines may fall by 16 percent, while the country is expected to increase its pork imports by 16 percent.
Consumption, however, is also expected to decline by 10 percent.
With the government is still trying to contain the spread of the ASF, consumers are expected to shift to chicken, which will also trigger an increase in chicken meat imports.
“In the Philippines, as pork production falls sharply, chicken meat production and imports of both pork and chicken meat will rise. Elevated chicken supplies will spur consumption to exceed that of pork. Strong competition for supplies from China and higher prices will dampen beef imports and consumption. Per capita consumption of the three meats will decline just 1 percent,” USDA said.
For next year, the country’s chicken consumption, production, and total imports are all expected to go up by 13 percent, 10 percent, and 27 percent, respectively.
ASF is currently the biggest threat faced by the Philippines’ P260-billion local hog industry, which raises 12 to 13 million hogs annually.
The virus cannot infect humans when properly cooked and is not considered a food safety risk but is a fatal animal disease affecting pigs and wild boars with up to 100 percent case fatality rate.
This means that this particular disease can wipe out the entire hog population in a certain area.
On Friday, new ASF outbreaks have been reported in Bulacan and Pampanga, but Agriculture Secretary William Dar said he “won’t confirm nor deny it.”
Areas that were already hit by the deadly virus so far are Apalit, Candaba and San Simon (Pampanga); Pandi, Pulilan, Plaridel, and Guiguinto (Bulacan); Tandang Sora, Tatalon, Silangan, Payatas (Quezon City); Cupang and another unnamed area in Antipolo City; San Isidro, San Jose, Macabud, Geronimo, San Rafael, Mascap, Rodriguez (Rizal).
As for hog deaths, there have been approximately 30,000 pigs that have so far died and were culled due to ASF, which accounts to less than one percent of the country’s total swine population of 12.8 million as of July.
In contrast to USDA’s report, Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG), the country’s strongest agriculture lobby group, said that because of ASF and its negative effect on consumers’ perception towards pork, the country may actually see a surplus of pork.
“This year, we are overstocked by 110 percent,” SINAG said. “Our production in the second quarter even increased by 4.1 percent.”
This, while the group claims that they are now seeing lower pork consumption by 5 to 6 percent for this year, which will result to more surplus stocks.
Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI) Spokesperson Rex Agarrado said that government agencies like the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Health (DOH) should intensify their efforts to inform the public that pork is safe to eat.