DA upbeat on lowering of pork prices after easing importation

Published August 10, 2021, 1:10 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Officials on Tuesday, August 10, expressed confidence that prices of pork will stabilize after the government allowed more imports into the Philippines.

(Keith Bacongco/MANILA BULLETIN File Photo)

During the sixth inquiry of the House of Representatives on the spike in the prices of goods, Department of Agriculture (DA) official cited a “gradual” decline in the cost of pork following President Duterte’s executive orders (EO) that cut the tariff rates on imported pork products, in a bid to augment local supply and reduce prices.

“Prices of pork have started to go down,” DA Secretary William Dar reported to the joint House agriculture and trade committees.

Dar touted the price of imported or frozen pork kasim and ham, which he said is being sold at P220 per kilogram; and frozen pork belly or liempo at P250/kg.

“We largely attribute this to EO 133 and 134 which reduced pork import tariff and increased pork imports allocation to bring down pork prices. We are glad that this temporary measure is working,” the DA chief said.

But lawmakers still found the local pork produce relatively expensive.

According to the DA’s survey as of Monday, August 9, the prevailing prices of fresh produce in the wet markets are about P320 to P330 per kilogram for pork kasim, and about P360/kg for liempo.

The agency previously pegged a P340-P350/kg price range for kasim, and P370-P400/kg price range for liempo.

“Did we attain the objective [of the EO]?” House trade panel chair and Navotas City Representative John Rey Tiangco asked.

“We are gradually attaining it. Because the decline, the prices of fresh pork is gradually declining,” DA director Ramon Yedra insisted.

Local hog raisers, also, are finding it difficult to compete with imported pork.

National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc. president Chester Tan said they cannot easily trim down the prices of their produce due to the increasing cost of their inputs.

“Hindi po namin inaano yong sa imported eh, kung anong price ang ibebenta nila sa market, what we are after is ‘yong sa local. We are trying to survive, sinusundan namin, pero hindi po talaga, hindi namin kaya ‘yong presyo ng imported as of now (We are not looking at prices of imported pork in the market, what we are after is the local. We are trying to survive, we are trying to follow orders, but we cannot bring our prices down to as low as those imported),” Tan said.

“Kasi (Because) if we follow the price of imported, all of us will lose money, not only here in Luzon, but also in Visayas and Mindanao,” he warned.

According to the DA’s National Meat Inspection Service, the Philippines has so far received some 166,000 metric tons (MT) of imported pork this year, 46,000 MT of which were within the minimum access volume (MAV).

MAV refers to the volume of agricultural product that is allowed to be imported at a lower tariff.

With EO No. 133, the MAV was raised to 254,210 MT, from the original 54,210 MT. EO 134, meawhile, amended the controversial EO 128 to set the tariff rate for imported pork to 10 percent for the first three months and 15 percent in the next nine months.

The DA earlier said it expects pork imports to increase to 425,000 MT this year, even as the country already saw a 401-percent surge in pork imports from January to April.

“Dapat ngayon pa lang malaki na ‘yong effect niya sa presyo ng pork (The importations should have already affected the prices of pork significantly),” Tiangco said.

In maintaining the need to further import, Dar said that the arrival of more volumes of imported pork will “slowly” bring down prices of pork in the country.

“If many of these will arive, slowly it will impact also into the prices of local pork. So some equilibrium will happen — I mean, it will find its own equilibrium because it will impact into local pork prices,” Dar explained.