PH to import more chicken

Published September 30, 2021, 2:35 PM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

The Philippines is seen importing more chicken meat until end this year despite declining demand, data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) showed.

The latest forecast of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) in Manila (Post) showed that the Philippines’ “chicken meat imports for 2022 are forecast at 400,000 MT [metric tons] while 2021 imports are revised up 70,000 MT to 420,000 MT.”

The Post forecast is “based on robust trade to date and the return of some European suppliers to the market.”

“Chicken meat is expected to continue supplementing some of the demand for pork, which will remain under pressure from ASF [African Swine Fever]. Chicken exports to the Philippines through July 2021 are 36 percent higher than 2020, with North American and Brazilian poultry showing robust growth,” Post said.

“The Philippines recently resumed imports of a few key European countries following Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza-related bans, boosting sources for mechanically deboned meat [MDM], an affordable protein source used in meat processing,” it added.

The Philippines’ biggest sources for imported chicken meat are the United States, Brazil, and the European Union.

Citing industry sources, Post said that MDM prices recently declined to $0.90 per kilogram (/kg) from a high of $1.50/kg, reflecting the return of EU suppliers.

Moreover, since mid-2020, there have been no reported whole bird exports to the Philippines due to a de facto ban on the issuance of SPS Import Clearances for the product.

Amid the increase in chicken imports this year, Post also sees chicken per capita consumption slightly declining in 2022 to 15.6 kg, as moderately higher consumption does not match population growth. For 2021, chicken per capita consumption is estimated at 15.8 kg.

In contrast, Post also forecasts chicken meat production in 2022 to increase by 2 percent to 1.36 million MT on the basis of improving economic conditions. However, sans major developments, Post maintains the 2021 production estimate at 1.33 million MT.

According to the latest Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) report, chicken production was 6 percent lower year-over-year in the first half of 2021 as compared to 2020, from 688,164 MT to 643,628 MT.

Last month, United Broilers Raisers Association (UBRA) Chairman Gregorio San Diego Jr. told Business Bulletin the stricter lockdown measures in the National Capital Region (NCR) and other areas in the country is what has been causing the decline in the demand for chicken.

He also said that the falling demand has made it hard for local producers to recover from the lingering impacts of strict lockdown restrictions implemented last year and the high volume of chicken imports that continuously enter the country.

“Filipinos have run out of money, but the government’s attention is still with the supply. Their focus should shift to the demand. If there’s low demand [and you keep on allowing importation in hopes of bringing down the prices], then you have to deal with a surplus,” San Diego, who also serves as the chairman of the Philippine Egg Board Association, said in an earlier report.