Metro Manila, home to 12 million people, will have enough supply of pork and chicken until the first quarter of next year amid the threat of African Swine Fever (ASF) and logistics problems.
In a statement, the Department of Agriculture (DA) assured the consuming public that “pork and poultry products are sufficient to tide us over until yearend and onto the first quarter of 2021”.
Based on data provided by DA’s national livestock program (NLP), more than 213,500 hogs from Visayas and Mindanao were shipped to Metro Manila and nearby provinces since May 2020 to augment supply of pork and pork products.
Undersecretary for Livestock William Medrano, NLP head, said the bulk of the hogs comes from Region 12 or Soccsksargen, which has sent more than 88,800 head and counting since May, comprising 42 percent of the total shipment.
It is followed by Region 6 or Western Visayas, sending 52,700 head or 25 percent.
Disruptions in poultry and pork supply were due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions as well as the continuous spread of ASF in Luzon and in other parts of the country.
Because of this, Agriculture Secretary William Dar has directed the respective DA regional directors in the Visayas and Mindanao to coordinate with swine raisers so they can facilitate the transport of their hogs to Metro Manila and ease up the tightening supply and prices of pork.
“Due to the ASF, the country’s pork inventory suffered at an alarming level, and the move to ship hogs from Visayas and Mindanao was a pre-emptive measure to arrest the worsening pork supply and prices in Metro Manila,” said Dar.
An additional supply of pork during the holidays and onto next year is expected as hog producers in General Santos City gear up to increase shipments to Metro Manila and other major markets in Luzon.
Antonio Ephrem Marin, head of the General Santos City veterinary office, said hog farmers in the area have leveled up operations to meet the target shipment of 15,000 to 20,000 head monthly to Luzon.
For his part, Medrano said in addition to live hogs, the country’s frozen pork inventory is more than enough, at 32,724 metric tons (MT), as of the first week of December, as reported by the DA-National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS).
“We have also a surplus supply of poultry meat, with an inventory of 43,345 MT of frozen dressed chicken as of the first week of December, 46 percent more than last year’s level,” Medrano said.
Overall, despite the pandemic and ASF, he said there was a slight increase in the total volume of pork and chicken compared to 2019, according to DA-NMIS data.