The Philippine Star

Meat pro­ces­sors see P40-B losses from ASF scare

- By LOUISE MAU­REEN SIMEON Visayas · Bulacan · Rizal · Quezon City · Quezon · Philippines · Russia · Pampanga

The lo­cal meat pro­cess­ing in­dus­try ex­pects to lose as much as P40 bil­lion for the com­ing hol­i­day sea­son as the gov­ern­ment has yet to fi­nal­ize guide­lines on the ban of pro­cessed meat in some ar­eas fol­low­ing the ris­ing cases of African swine fever in the coun­try.

The Philip­pine As­so­ci­a­tion of Meat Pro­ces­sors Inc. (PAMPI) said its mem­bers con­tinue to face dif­fi­cul­ties in trans­port­ing and en­ter­ing sev­eral prov­inces even with the Christ­mas sea­son just around the corner as more lo­cal gov­ern­ment units have banned pork prod­ucts.

Visayas and Min­danao con­trib­ute roughly 35 per­cent or about P100 bil­lion to the P300­bil­lion lo­cal meat pro­cess­ing in­dus­try. This in­cludes pro­cess­ing, restau­rants and fast­food chains de­pen­dent on pork prod­ucts.

“It is al­ready the peak sea­son and it is that time of the year with the high­est de­mand for our prod­ucts and yet we can­not bring in our prod­ucts be­cause of the ban. We are see­ing P40 bil­lion in losses of sales,” PAMPI vice pres­i­dent Jerome Ong told The STAR.

“About 55 prov­inces have ei­ther to­tal or con­di­tional ban in Visayas and Min­danao in­clud­ing some parts in North­ern Lu­zon. Even those prov­inces that did not im­pose ban, we are hav­ing a hard time en­ter­ing be­cause we had to pass through those ar­eas that are ban­ning the prod­ucts,” he added.

ASF is now con­firmed in 21 ar­eas in Lu­zon par­tic­u­larly in Bu­la­can, Rizal, Pam­panga and Que­zon City. So far, about 36,000 hogs have been lost due to ASF.

Ma­jor­ity of Visayas and Min­danao have al­ready is­sued ex­ec­u­tive or­ders pro­hibit­ing the en­try of pork and pork prod­ucts.

PAMPI al­ready wrote ap­peal let­ters to gover­nors but they have yet to hear from them. Even Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Wil­liam Dar and Trade Sec­re­tary Ra­mon Lopez have ex­erted ef­forts to ap­peal to lo­cal gov­ern­ment units but to no avail.

“We al­ready need the bless­ing of Pres­i­dent Duterte, an or­der from him so the LGUs will fol­low. We un­der­stand that they have the right to pro­tect their prov­inces but what we need is a uni­fied guide­lines from the na­tional gov­ern­ment,” Ong said.

“We want it as soon as pos­si­ble, of course but we know that the Pres­i­dent is very busy but if this con­tin­ues, it will re­sult to a ma­jor eco­nomic catas­tro­phe and the food se­cu­rity of the coun­try will be jeop­ar­dized,” he added.

Ong said the group al­ready sought the help of Mala­canang even be­fore Pres­i­dent Duterte’s state visit to Rus­sia but PAMPI has yet to get any re­sponse.

“But even if the ban gets lifted just a few weeks be­fore Christ­mas, we al­ready stopped pro­duc­tion be­cause of the un­cer­tainty of whether we can sell or not. Pro­duc­ing pro­cessed meat is not done overnight,” he added.

PAMPI also warned that the in­dus­try might re­visit their re­spec­tive busi­ness plans and will likely re­sult in lay­offs if the sit­u­a­tion will not im­prove.

For in­stance, the in­dus­try em­ploys 10,000 ad­di­tional sea­sonal work­ers ev­ery hol­i­day but as of now, no hir­ing is hap­pen­ing be­cause of the slow down in op­er­a­tions.

PAMPI is com­posed mainly of man­u­fac­tur­ers of pro­cessed meat and sup­pli­ers from al­lied in­dus­tries.

Founded in 1990, it has 83 mem­ber com­pa­nies di­rectly in­volved in food man­u­fac­tur­ing, pack­ag­ing, cold chain lo­gis­tics and in­fra­struc­ture.

The in­dus­try is es­ti­mated to gen­er­ate an an­nual rev­enue of P300 bil­lion and pro­vides di­rectly em­ploy­ment to some 150,000 peo­ple.

Last year, in­dus­try out­put was 871 mil­lion kilo­grams of pro­cessed meats.

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