Local raisers want poultry imports halted

By Madelaine B. Miraflor

A group of poultry raisers has asked the Philippine government to temporarily suspend the importation of poultry products as they are currently dealing with an oversupply at the local front.

In a letter to the Department of Agriculture (DA), United Broiler Raisers Association (UBRA) “urgently” requested that the importation of poultry meat and poultry products be suspended on the weight of oversupply of broilers in the local market.

“Local production has been more than market demand since the beginning of 2020,” UBRA told the DA.

On April 24, the DA released its food supply outlook for 2020, showing that by the end of this year, the Philippines will have a surplus of 253 days in chicken inventory. This means that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the projected supply for poultry products will be good to last at least until the second half of 2021.

This prompted Agriculture Secretary William Dar to make an appeal to the public to consume more chicken than pork, supply of which is currently on a downtrend.

“The COVID-19 crisis has severely aggravated the situation with the closure of hotels, restaurants and other institutional buyers coupled with the restrictions in the movement of goods and people under the ECQ,” UBRA said.

Right now, HRI represents at least 30 percent of the local poultry industry’s market.

As of April 20, the inventory for dressed chicken frozen inventory stood at 71.86 million kilos, a data from the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS). This only pertains only to cold storage facilities accredited by the NMIS.

Likewise, based on the broiler breeders in place, 2020 would have been a historical high in terms of poultry production.

“In order to preserve the remaining production potential for 2020, the importation of poultry meat and poultry products must cease as soon as possible so that the industry, especially those at the breeder stage of the value chain, can hold on until times are less volatile,” UBRA said.

The group pointed out that such request is not unprecedented since poultry raisers in Europe have similar asked for similar relief to "prevent" an oversupply crisis in the sector during the pandemic.
The comment of DA Spokesperson Noel Reyes has been sought regarding this issue, but he hasn't replied yet.

To recall, the Philippines is one of the top importers of chicken in the world alongside China, Japan, Mexico, Hong Kong, South Africa, and Russia.

In 2018, the Philippines imported $124 million worth of poultry products to the United States alone, which was up 14 percent from 2017. This was mostly broiler meat, live poultry, egg, among others.