Meat Processors Protest Ban on Pork Imports

by 5m Editor
26 September 2008, at 8:08am

THE PHILIPPINES - The country’s largest group of meat processors has protested over a ban imposed by the Department of Agriculture (DA) on pork importation, warning that this could affect the supply of meat products in the coming holiday season.

In a statement on Friday, the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI) said that it had sent a letter to Secretary Arthur Yap on September 23, requesting for the immediate lifting of the suspension of import applications for pork manufacturing-grade parts.

BusinessWorld reports that last September 16th, Mr. Yap instructed the the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) to suspend the issuance of (veterinary quarantine clearance) VCQ for pork import applications, amid pressures from Congressman Nicanor Brioners and an influential group of hog raisers.

Mr. Briones blamed the presence of imported pork in the wet markets for a large inventory of 50,000 to 60,000 oversized hogs, amid a lack of market demand.

"It is disappointing to note that the DA would unilaterally and immediately react to this allegation without a benefit of consultation on confrontation with importers and processors who are users of imported pork parts," PAMPI said.

The meat processors said the suspension of pork importation took effect without the conduct of a dialogue between PAMPI members and the hog raisers, or the DA and BAI, or among the three parties.

"It is fearful to think that the DA would actually decide to sacrifice the meat processing industry so that you could submit to the pressures that Congressman Briones and the hog raisers have applied upon your department," PAMPI said in their letter to Mr. Yap.

PAMPI claimed that the suspension of VCQ for pork importation has affected the delivery of manufacturing-grade parts needed by the meat processing industry, including pork bellies, fats, offals, and skin/rind.

Data from the BAI that show as of September 13th, pork imports reached 83,454 metric tons, compared to the 12-month importation of 79,381 MT in 2007.

PAMPI said that while the pork import volume this year appeared quite high, this cannot be traced to the importation of manufacturing-grade pork parts.

"Our importation of manufacturing grade pork parts are not unreasonably high compared to 2007 volumes, except for bellies which has become scarce in local supply, forcing us to depend on imported sources to support the increased demand of bacons," PAMPI said.

As of August 30, imports of pork bellies reached 6,503,480 kilos this year, against 3,343,918 kilos in August 2007.

PAMPI said what contributed to the surge in pork importation this year was the increase in the shipments of "cuts".

"We do not believe that the meat processors would be the importers of this category of pork parts," PAMPI said, noting that importation of cuts reached 23,761,236 kilos as of August 2008, against 4,963,011 kilos in August 2007.

"A sweeping control on, or restriction, of all pork imports will be an unfair stance for the meat processors and would challenge the enterprise system in a free economy. The distortion in market behavior of pork prices may have been introduced by the entry of huge volumes of pork cuts," PAMPI said.

PAMPI asked the government to reduce, if not suspend the importation of pork cuts, while allowing the uninterrupted sourcing of manufacturing grade parts for bellies, deboned pork parts, fats, offals, rind/skin, which are substantial raw materials for processed meat products that utilize pork-based formulations.

5m Editor