Meat processors warn of price hike if imports restricted

By Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 07 2012 05:34 PM | Updated as of May 08 2012 01:59 AM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - Meat processors warned that prices of meat will become more expensive if the government restricts its importation.

In a statement, a group of meat processors, traders and distributors said stopping pork imports at a time when meat is in short supply would be disastrous and equivalent to economic sabotage. '

Philippine Association of Meat Processors executive director Francisco Buencamino said prices of meat in wet markets will certainly go up if the government heeds the advice of hog raisers to limit the entry of imported meat.

According to the groups, there is a short supply of pork in the local market. It added that local hograisers are not able to meet the meat processors' demand.

On the issue of quality, the association said local meat is even more prone to contamination since it is exposed to the elements from the slaughterhouse to the wet markets.

Meat processors said imported meat are sanitary and has undergone rigorous quality standards.

Last week, hog and poultry raisers threatened to hold a 5-day "meat" holiday to protest the alleged smuggling of meat and poultry products into the country. AGAP party-list Rep. Nicanor Briones is appealing to the Bureau of Customs to act swiftly, saying smuggling has affected over 800,000 local hog raisers.

Based on data gathered by the National Federation of Hog Farmers and the Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines,  P3.7 billion in annual government revenues are lost due to smuggling of meat and poultry.

Warning vs traders

However, Trade and Industry Undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya warned traders against using the "meat" holiday as an excuse to raise their prices.

While chicken prices have gone up by P20 per kilo, Maglaya attributed the increase to the poor harvest resulting from the weather and not because of the impending "meat" holiday. Currently, the prices of chicken is P130 per kilo from P110 while prices of pork is between P170 to P180.