While pork prices in Luzon have risen markedly in the past few weeks, hog raisers from Visaayas and Mindanao (Vis-Min) are still suffering from low pork prices – with some of them forced to sell their pigs at P90 per kilogram (/kg), liveweight, from the farmgate price of up to P120/kg, liveweight– amid continuously falling demand.
This, while the prevailing prices for pork products in select markets in Metro Manila now range from P250/kg to P280/kg, even prompting government authorities to adjust higher the suggested retail price (SRP) for this commodity amid a looming pork shortage in the capital.
In a phone interview, Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) Executive Director Jayson Cainglet said that until now, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has yet to address the problems being faced by hog raisers in Visayas and Mindanao since April.
Facing a double whammy, the hog industry, while has been struck by fatal animal disease African Swine Fever (ASF) since last year, is also now dealing with the impact of COVID-19 lockdown, which forced the sector’s biggest markets, hotels and restaurants, to temporarily shut down, effectively pulling down the
demand for locally produced pork.
The least the DA can do, according to Cainglet, is to help the hog raisers from Visayas and Mindanao transport their pigs and pork products to Luzon, the most badly hit region in terms of ASF.
Instead, he said the DA has been relying on traders to do this, which haven’t done much for the raisers.
“The DA should talk to raisers directly,” Cainglet said. “Hog prices in those regions are already extremely down so the DA should be able to find a way to ship those products here now”.
Data from the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) showed that from June 24, 2019 to June 22, 2020, the country’s inventory for local pork surged by 195.31 percent from 3.3 million kilograms to 9.7 million kilograms.
The DA said that as of April, as much as 16,134 live pigs were already brought from Mindanao to Metro Manila.
Around the same time, the agency said the Philippines might have a deficit of 43 days in pork inventory by the end of this year, a data earlier disputed by SINAG, saying that it’s the demand for pork, not the supply, that has been falling.
“The goal of the department is to help local raisers and aside from that, we need to ensure that there’s enough supply of pork in the market,” the DA said in a statement.
Meanwhile, NMIS recently issued an advisory against unsafe meat products being sold online.
“Without physical access to the items being sold, consumers buying meat online have no way of knowing its quality, and rely mainly on textual description and images provided by the seller,” NMIS
“In buying highly perishable food like meat, any inaccurate, false, or exaggerated presentation of facts may cause potential food safety hazard. Therefore, the public is encouraged to buy meat from local stores where they can actually see what they are buying,” it added.
In case of an online purchase, NMIS advised the public to make sure they are buying from licensed meat suppliers/entities.
“Ask the seller to provide information about the source meat being sold, and if this is a licensed business entity. Any information can be verified with the NMIS website,” the agency said.
“Bear in mind that meat must be kept in a cooler or insulated container to keep its freshness and avoid spoilage. Chilled meat is cold to the touch, while frozen meat must be rock solid. In case of imported meat, its frozen state must be maintained at all times, until such time that it will be cooked,” it added.