WITH the price cap expiring today, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is imposing a suggested retail price (SRP) on imported pork effective April 9.
Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar on Wednesday said that setting SRP on imported pork is the next step in stabilizing the increasing prices of the product based on consultations with the stakeholders. The existing price cap on pork and chicken, he said, will not be extended anymore.
DA set the SRP of imported pork at P270 per kilogram (kg) for kasim and P350 per kg for liempo. New SRP will be implemented for local pork as well, Dar said, noting that no SRP will be placed on whole-dressed chicken as it averages at P130 per kg or below the price cap.
In February, President Duterte ordered a 60-day price ceiling for pork (kasim, P270 per kg; liempo, P300 per kg) and chicken (P160 per kg) to ensure that said food items remain affordable. Market monitoring last month, however, revealed that retail price of pork in Metro Manila wet markets has stayed above P320 per kg, even reaching P380 per kg.
In placing the SRP, Dar said the agency considered the pork prices and other expenses including storage and transportation, as well as the margins of the importers and the retailers.
“Aside from supermarkets and groceries, imported pork will be distributed also in wet markets in Metro Manila, particularly to retailers with freezers and/or chillers,” Dar said.
The DA, through the Metro Manila local government units, will provide freezers to retailers who do not have one yet, allocating P45-million grant. The department intends to buy 2,500 units of P18,000 chest freezers with capacity of 150 kg each.
In the first quarter, Dar reported that the Philippines imported around 38 million kg of pork: 18.2 million kg of the shipments were within the minimum access volume (MAV) while the remaining 19.7 million kg were outside the quota.
Dar said this could help augment Metro Manila’s supply needs, of 15 million kg of pork every month.
“With the availability of about 38 million kg, this will really further soften…inflation,” he added.
The food index, particularly pork prices, has been driving the consumer price growth, Dar noted.
To boost pork supply in Metro Manila, Dar said the DA will continue to supply and deliver surplus hogs from provinces free of African swine fever (ASF) outbreak across the country.
A total of 264,000 hogs have been delivered to Metro Manila from various provinces as of April 7, on top of the 1.7 million kg of pig carcasses brought to the National Capital Region (NCR).
The DA official said transport assistance to mobilize the hog supply to NCR plus bubble will be still be provided amid the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
The DA intends to bring surplus hogs to Metro Manila until the proposal to increase the MAV and lower the tariff on pork imports are approved.
President Duterte approved last week the recommendation to increase the MAV from 54,210 metric tons this year by another 350,000 MT. The DA earlier requested this to address the anticipated pork supply shortage.
The proposal was submitted to Congress for consideration, but just as lawmakers were to go on scheduled recess. If Congress fails to act after 15 days from receipt, the proposal shall be deemed approved.
Meanwhile, President Duterte on Wednesday approved the proposal to reduce tariff on pork imports. See banner story “Palace cuts pork tariff over solons’ objections.”
While these measures are necessary to stabilize pork prices, Dar explained that repopulating hogs, in addition to combating the ASF outbreak, remains to be DA’s priority to ensure enough supply.
DAR said that vegetable prices have significantly gone down recently. An average of 50-percent decline from February prices was observed, he noted.
For the part of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez, he said that prices for non-agricultural products, basic necessities and prime commodities have been stable as well. The DTI, he claimed, has not recorded upticks in prices since September 2019.
Still, Lopez said the agency was evaluating the requests for price increases, including that of meat processors for the mechanically deboned meat (MDM).
The BusinessMirror recently reported that some members of the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (Pampi) filed a price increase petition before the DTI amid increasing raw material prices. (Related story: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2021/03/29/meat-processors-file-price-hike-bids-with-dti/)
Pampi Vice President Jerome D. Ong said that the buying price for MDM of chicken has more than doubled to $1.5 per kg CIF (cost, insurance and freight).