Amid shortage of pork, chicken supply
With African Swine Fever (ASF) still killing hogs and poultry raisers cutting on production after a bad case of an oversupply, the next best and affordable protein source of Filipinos might be eggs, which are in abundant supply.
United Broiler Raisers Association (UBRA) President Bong Inciong said a lot of hogs and broiler raisers have shifted to layer poultry farming or chicken egg production during the past months, pushing the supply of eggs high over the last weeks.
For hog raisers, the reason for the shift was ASF, while broiler raisers had to deal with an oversupply amid COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and the influx of poultry imports, Inciong explained.
“The volume of production in eggs is high. Those who lost livelihood in hog and poultry raising all shifted there. Consumers are assured of enough supply of egg. This can be their only protein source if we run out of pork and chicken,” Inciong said in a virtual briefing.
Right now, the local consumption of pork in the Philippines is 15 kilograms per capita per year, while it is 8.2 kilograms per capita per month for year.
According to Inciong, it will take some time for the broiler industry to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and for the supply of chicken to stabilize.
“If demand recovers, we will find out the consequence of the industry’s decision to cut down their production, which they did because the government didn’t approve their request to suspend importation during the early days of the pandemic,” Inciong said.
“If there’s already a COVID-19 vaccine and when people start going out and eating out, there will be pressure on the poultry industry and prices will definitely go up. And when prices go up, the government might again solve the problem through importation. There is no recovering from there for the poultry raisers,” he added.
Pork and chicken meat prices in Metro Manila and nearby areas have remained high for the 8th consecutive week, based on Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) monitoring and actual retail market prices.
This, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA), was bought about by the series of typhoons adversely impacting the supply and prices of farm commodities.
ASF, too, continues to pull down pork supply in the country, while pushing prices of the commodity at an unprecedented rate.
As of Friday, the prevailing price of pork kasim in select markets in Metro Manila stood at P360 per kilogram (/kg), while it is P400/kg for pork liempo, based on the latest price monitoring report of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
A kilo of a whole fully dressed chicken, on the other hand, now costs P190, while a piece of medium size chicken egg is P6.50.
To address the rising prices of basic food commodities, the DA and the Department of Trade and Industry, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and Metro Manila chief executives forged an agreement to impose stricter price measures in public markets in the metropolis.
“First, we will strengthen the local price coordinating councils (LPCCs) for them to clamp down on wholesalers, traders and retailers, who unreasonably jack up prices and take advantage of the current tight supply situation in pork and vegetables,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
“Second, from hereon we will require them to register so we will know who they are, and thereafter monitor them regularly,” he added.
For his part, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said he “hopes” his agency can come up with a clear price list and corresponding price control, for the guidance and compliance of traders and retailers.
“Further, it is an important thing to have a list of participants in the value chain,” he added.
Meanwhile, MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos said his agency and the Metro Manila Mayors “will help in elevating the price monitoring, enforcement and adjudication process.”
Already, the DA and other agencies are recommending to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte the imposition of another “price freeze” on selected food items like pork, chicken, fish, and vegetables.
The last time Duterte imposed a 60-day price freeze was in November last year, following the declaration of a state of calamity in Luzon in the wake of Typhoon Ulysses.