Neda chief pushes for easing of rules on sale of frozen pork to curb inflation


Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua on Thursday said the government must ease its rules on the sale of frozen pork to wet markets to further temper food inflation, which he noted remains elevated due to expensive pork products.

Chua explained that he has two main concerns regarding inflation: food prices, particularly pork, and oil prices.

He noted that the government has been able to arrest pork inflation down to 30 plus percent from 60 percent in the middle of the year due to the twin measures they implemented: expansion of minimum access volume (MAV+) and temporary reduction of pork tariffs.

He cited that inflation in the National Capital Region (NCR) is now within the 2-percent to 4- percent target of the central bank since majority of the pork imports are in this area and which are sold in supermarkets.

However, he pointed out that pork prices remain high in areas outside the National Capital Region (NCR) since certain existing government rules hinder the sale of imported frozen pork to wet markets.

“Where we are seeing higher inflation of above 5 percent because pork is outside NCR,” Chua said during the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines’s webinar, titled “Election Fever: Business Outlook 2022” on Thursday.

“One reason for that is some restrictions that prevent some of these imported supply for being sold elsewhere, especially in wet markets. This is something we think should be more relaxed so more people can benefit,” he added.

Chua was referring to a decade-old rule of government that imported frozen pork cannot be sold in wet market unless vendors are equipped with the right refrigeration system to properly store, handled and display these meat products. The rule is encapsulated in Department of Agriculture’s Administrative Order (AO) 6, Series of 2012, which outlines the guidelines on the “hygienic” handling of chilled, frozen and thawed meat in wet markets.

Under AO 6, chilled meat products sold to market should not be frozen and shall maintain a temperature not higher than 10 degrees Celsius, while frozen meat should be stored, held and sold at a temperature not higher than zero degrees Celsius and should be stored in a meat cold storage at less than -18°C. (Related story:

Since the issuance of AO 6 Series of 2012, various industry groups such as the Meat Importers and Traders Association (MITA) and Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (Pampi), have called on the suspension or even the elimination of such rule, claiming that the order is discriminatory against imported meat products and it is not based on science.

Pampi renewed its call earlier this week to suspend AO 6 after Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar issued Memorandum Circular (MC) 23, allowing the sale of pork imports under the MAV+ program to areas outside the NCR+ (Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna and Cavite) “with relatively high prices of pork meat.”

The group pointed out that Dar’s MC 23 is an “exercise in futility” and is not enough to address the “unabated high prices of pork” due to “dysfunctional” government policies that hinder the sale of frozen pork in wet markets.

The agriculture chief explained that he issued MC 23, which amended the pork MAV+ guidelines, to facilitate the “full utilization” of the pork MAV+ following the “very low” utilization of the pork MAV+ “due to the very strict market restrictions and distribution,” which defeated the objectives of the import program.

“Only four regions registered a single-digit inflation instead of a less than double-digit inflation rate on meat while the rest displayed higher than the national rate of 4.2 from January to August 2021,” the document read.

“There is a considerable deficit in pork supply being experienced all over the country,” it added.

Based on the estimates of economist Ramon Clarete and Agriculture Undersecretary Fermin D. Adriano, the country’s pork supply deficit has now reached 651,000 metric tons (MT), from the earlier estimated shortfall of about 400,000 MT.

Pampi emphasized that AO 6 must be suspended to allow freer entry of frozen meat products in wet markets.

“The DA had recommended the expansion of MAV and reduction of pork tariffs without notifying other government agencies that the imported pork cannot be sold in wet markets unless they are displayed in freezers and kept at a temperature of -18 degrees Celsius,” Pampi said.

“There is no logic in banning the sale of  frozen meat  but allowing imported frozen galunggong to be sold in wet markets,” it added.

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