Local food producers made another appeal to Filipinos to buy local chicken, fish, and pork during the holidays, as this will not only provide consumers fresh options but will also help their industry, which is still reeling from the impact of previous lockdown restrictions and continuous importation.
In a text exchange, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement President Edicio De La Torre said he wishes for Filipino consumers to buy local meat and fish, especially during this Christmas season.
“If you buy local meat and fish, they are not only fresh but also healthier than imported ones that are frozen, especially if they are sold in markets that don’t have the prescribed storage facilities,” Dela Torre said.
He also said that there is enough local supply of fish catch from artisanal and commercial fishing, combined with fish harvest from aquaculture for the holidays.
In the Philippines, the estimated per capita consumption for fish and other fishery products stood at 40 per kilograms (/kg) per year, while the annual local consumption of pork is 15 kg per capita. For chicken, the estimated per capita consumption yearly is 8.2 kg.
Like Dela Torre, Atty. Karen Jimeno, legal counsel of Vitarich Corporation Inc., is also making an appeal to consumers this time for chicken.
“It’s important to buy locally produced chicken. Not only is it healthier by being free from preservatives, it also supports the local value chain. It puts food on our table and also feeds the families of everyone who worked to bring the chicken from farm to table,” Jimeno said in a separate interview.
Chicken is the most versatile and cheapest protein in the Philippines. In 2020, when the supply of pork steeply fell due to the African Swine Fever (ASF), the Department of Agriculture (DA) advised to eat chicken instead of pork.
“As we will experience some contraction in pork supply of around 43 days, we encourage consumers to shift to other alternative sources of protein like chicken, ducks, eggs, and processed meat products,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar in an earlier statement.
In the meantime, Jimeno said that with “global supply chain uncertainty, it is important that the Philippines becomes self-sufficient.”
“We should secure our right to affordable food, right to fresh and nutritious food, and right to stable supply,” she said. “If we think in these terms, we can think of buying local as a form of Bayanihan. Buying local is affordable and helps sustain jobs,” she added.
For his part, United Broiler Association (UBRA) President Elias Jose Inciong said that by default, household consumers really prefer local pork. It’s just that the Philippine government has somehow found a way to allow frozen imported meat to be sold in their non-traditional markets.
“The households prefer fresh and one of the reasons for that is not all households have refrigerator also because there are areas in the Philippines that are facing electricity problems,” Inciong said.
“The entire industry is hoping HRI will pick up,” he added.
As for pork, Nonon Tambago, president of Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines, Inc. (PPFPI) and consequently Virginia Farms Inc., said there is also enough local supply for the holidays, and it will greatly help the livestock industry survive if the consumers will prefer local over imported.
“We are encouraging consumers to patronize locally produced pork as they will not only help local farmers survive from the challenges of this pandemic but they will be assured of a clean and fresh pork for their families during their holiday celebrations,” Tambago said in another interview.
“Price may be a bit higher than imported but the quality of local pork is more superior than thawed imported pork as it was already stored and frozen for more than two to three months,” he added.