Local meat processors fears of brewing PH-Brazil trade war

Apprehensive that a trade war is now brewing between the Philippines and Brazil over the import ban that the Department of Agriculture (DA) imposed on Brazilian poultry meat, the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI) has strongly urged government to prevent this from happening.

In a statement, PAMPI asked the government to avoid trade disputes with countries that provide raw materials for the food industry.

Photo credit: http://www.pampi.ph

At present, about 90 percent to 95 percent of raw materials of the local meat processing industry are imported, since the Philippines don't currently produce mechanically deboned meat (MDM).

 "It's not because we want to, but because we have to," PAMPI said, noting that the Philippines imports more than 800,000 metric tons (MT) of meat every year, of which 50 percent to 60 percent is used by meat processors to produce canned meat products, hotdogs and frozen meat items.

Because of the DA's decision to only partially lift the ban on Brazilian poultry meat, only imposing an exemption to MDM, PAMPI believes a trade row has already already started between the Philippines and Brazil.

"The trade row started when the Department of Agriculture imposed a ban on chicken meats coming from Brazil, citing health and phytosanitary issues as reasons," PAMPI said.

"Industry sources said Brazil practically hostaged the MDM shipments to Manila as a retaliation to what the DA did – banning Brazilian chicken entry into the Philippines," the group added.

For its part, PAMPI is appealing to the government for an "intervention so that we will be able to deliver our commitment to serve our people through a sustainable food security system".

“Without MDM from Brazil our cost of raw materials would spike by 20 percent and we cannot pass on the rising cost to our consumers because of Republic Act 7581 or the Price Act signed by President Duterte recently,” PAMPI said.

PAMPI members produced about 260 million canned goods during the March-May lockdown period.

Some 4 million kilograms of frozen meat items were also produced and distributed.