The Department of Agriculture (DA) is now studying the possibility of imposing another suggested retail price (SRP) on pork amid rising retail prices, and is hoping to come up with a decision within the week.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a briefing on Monday that the government hopes to arrest the rising cost of pork through the imposition of another SRP.
However, he said the DA will still have to study this, including what SRP to impose and whether or not it will cover both local and imported pork.
“Last month, we observed that farm-gate prices of local pork already went down. But lately, as we approach Christmas, the prices are slightly going higher. This is why we are having a look at this SRP mechanism,” Dar said.
“We are already studying this and hopefully we can come up with a decision within the week,” he added.
In the span of a few weeks, the prevailing prices of kasim and liempo at select markets in Metro Manila jumped from P280 per kilogram (/kg) and P340/kg during the first week of November to P320/kg to P360/kg during the third week of this month, respectively.
When asked why pork prices continue to increase when there is a shortage in meat cold storages right now due to the high volume of imported pork that continues to enter the country, Assistant Secretary for Agribusiness Kristine Evangelista said the aforementioned price only applies to local pork.
As for imported pork, she said the DA is now coordinating with the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) with regard to frozen pork inventory in cold storages.
For his part, Dar said aside from the low hog output, they have factored in the Christmas season and the increase in the demand as one of the reasons why pork prices are increasing.
Dar was also asked why the government’s plan to lower prices by encouraging more pork imports to enter the country is seemingly not working, and he only said “we are looking at this closely” and “we still have to bring in more pork into the market”.
Over the weekend, the Philippine government was told to stop the flooding of pork imports which has been negatively affecting the local hog sector.
Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines (Propork) President Edwin Chen, for his part, said it is unfortunate that despite pleas from the local hog sector for a cessation on importation, the government has ruled against the local hog sector’s request.
The country’s hog output has been on a downtrend over the last two years due to the prevalence of African Swine Fever (ASF), a fatal animal disease among hogs.
The Philippine government is addressing the situation through several measures. For the sector, a P4.1-billion fund was recently approved for a massive hog re-population program, while it also encourages the importation of cheaper, imported pork to ensure the supply.
To be specific, President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order (EO) 134 earlier this year to lower both the in-quota and out-quota tariff for pork for a period of one year. He also issued EO 133 raising the Minimum Access Volume (MAV) allocation for pork imports by 200,000 metric tons (MT), from its previous level of 54,210 MT.
MAV refers to the volume of a specific agricultural product that is allowed to be imported with a lower tariff as committed by the Philippines to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Earlier this year, the DA already recommended to impose SRP of P270/kg and P350/kg on pork kasim and liempo, respectively, but it also didn’t seem to work. It only triggered some meat vendors to go on a pork holiday where they stopped selling pork for a few days in protest of the low SRP.