MANILA - A poultry group requested Wednesday for the suspension of chicken importation in the Philippines as it sounded alarm over excess supply in the country.
In a statement, Elias Inciong, president of the United Broiler Raisers Association, said that based on the weekly inventory of the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS), there are 78,698.01 metric tons of chicken in accredited cold storage in the country, as of April 27.
This is almost seven metric tons higher than the inventory a week prior, and 40,535 metric tons higher than the inventory around the same time the previous year, Inciong said.
He said this was a record-high because of the combined high local production and importation, plus the drop in demand due to the enhanced community quarantine imposed in the Philippines since March 15.
“Yung dating pumupunta sa mga fast food, sa mga hotel, sa mga restaurant, sa mga lechon manok, biglang nawalan ng pupuntahan dahil pinasara. Yung kasing 30 percent production ng industriya, napupunta diyan sa hotels, restaurants. Yung 30 percent na yun, pumatong yun papunta doon sa mga households, yung pumunta sa grocery at mga palengke. Kaya talagang nabulunan yung sistema."
(Those who go to fast-food, restaurants, hotels, chicken grills, had nowhere to go because of the lockdown. Thirty percent of chicken production go to hotels, restaurants. And that 30 percent now goes to households, groceries, and markets. So the production was really overstocked.)
"Hirap na hirap yung industriya. Walang hanapbuhay ang mga tao ngayon, walang demand. Kaya kahit yung manok na papunta sa households, nabawasan din,” Inciong said.
(The chicken industry is experiencing difficult times. The people have no jobs, so there's no demand. That's why even chicken consumption in households also went down.)
The UBRA is asking the Department of Agriculture to suspend the importation of chicken for several months to allow the disposal of frozen chicken from the cold storage. The local industry can fill the demand anyway, said Inciong.
“'Yung nasa cold storage kasi, both local naman yan at imported. Hindi makagalaw, ipit na ipit yung industriya. Kasi ang karaniwang intervention ng industriya, kung hindi maibenta yung buhay na manok, dini-dress siya at fini-freeze, at nilalagay sa cold storage. Wala ngayong pagkakataon na magawa yung intervention na yun dahil punong-puno na yung cold storage,” said Inciong.
(Those in our cold storage are both from local production and imported. These can't be move out... What the industry does to intervene in situations like this to dress and put in cold storage chickens that can't be sold alive. The industry can't do that intervention right now as our cold storage are already full.)
Agriculture Asec. Noel Reyes said the department is looking into it.
NMIS director Reildrin Morales, meanwhile, said that only producers or manufacturers can determine the shelf life of their products. He assured that inspection is being done regularly alongside their inventory check to make sure chicken supplies will still be safe for consumption.
If the DA fails to suspend importation, Inciong warned of disruption of local chicken production, as many small-time producers will have to stop because of losses.
“Ang tatagal lang diyan siguro ay yung malalaking kumpanya. Kaya lang yung domino effect niyan sa ekonomiya, matindi. Kung yung small and medium na higit na nakakarami ay magsitigil dahil wala ng maaalagaan na sisiw, eh anong ekonomiyang meron tayo?.” he said.
(Only big local poultry firms may last longer. But a domino effect will be seen in the economy. If small and medium enterprises, which number more, stop operations, then what kind of economy do we have?)
If this happens, only the big producers will be left to fill the demand for chicken, and the supply may greatly suffer, he added.
Prices of chicken have gone down since the start of the ECQ. Before the lockdown, a kilo of chicken was being sold at P130 to P140. Now, it is being sold for P90 a kilo.
Mary Jane Rodrono, a chicken vendor at the Commonwealth Market, said she needed to reduce prices to entice more buyers.
"Mahirap sa ngayon...pero may tubo pa rin naman. Maliit nga lang kumpara noon na bumabalik talaga puhunan, malaki ang tubo. Ngayong hapon, bagsak presyo na lang namin para maubos lang,” she said.
(It's hard now... although, there's still a small profit. It's small compared before when our capital really returns with big gains.)
Consumer Marites Aso meanwhile is taking advantage of this by buying 5 kilos of chicken. This means she will not have to go back to the market anytime soon.
“Kaya bumili ako, inii-stock ko mas mura-mura ngayon kaysa dati. Iniistock para di kami labas nang labas. Walang trabaho ngayon kaya kailangan tipid,” she said.
(I buy to stock up, because it's cheaper now compared to before. We also stock up so we don't need to always go out. We don't have jobs, so we need to save.)