THE rise of pork retail prices in Metro Manila was caused by a scaling back of production by commercial hog raisers due to the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF), an industry official said.
In a radio interview Friday, Nicanor M. Briones, Vice President for Luzon of the Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines, Inc. (ProPork). said Luzon is experiencing a shortage after most backyard and commercial hog raisers voluntarily cut back on their operations out of fear their animals will contract ASF.
“You will go bankrupt if you are affected by ASF since there is no cure yet. Also there is no budget from the Department of Agriculture (DA) to assist hog raisers,” Mr. Briones said.
Mr. Briones said the hog population of Luzon is around 7.5 million head, with 4 to 5 million of this total lost to ASF or to culls ordered to quarantine the disease.
“Some 4 to 5 million head were lost from the 7.5 million hog population,” Mr. Briones said.
According to the DA’s Jan. 8 price monitoring report, the price of pork shoulder, known as kasim, ranges from P320 to P380, while pork belly, or liempo, fetched between P340 and P420 per kilogram. The report took in prices at various wet markets in Metro Manila.
The DA’s suggested retail price (SRP for pork shoulder is P260 per kilogram, and pork belly P290 per kilogram, well below actual market prices.
In the same radio interview, DA Spokesman Noel O. Reyes said P1 billion has been allocated to indemnify hog raisers that were affected by ASF.
Mr. Reyes said a process has to be followed before funds are released. Part of the process is for hog raisers to show that their animals died because of ASF.
“If a raiser’s pig died or is sick, a blood sample has to be extracted to ascertain if it was caused by ASF or not. There is a process to indemnification,” Mr. Reyes said.
“More than 80% of the P1 billion funds have already been released. Most of which were given in Luzon,” he added.
Mr. Reyes said the DA has been urging hog raisers in Visayas and Mindanao to deliver pork to Luzon.
He said that in 2020, around 200,000 hogs were transported to Luzon in an effort to boost pork supply.
Mr. Reyes also urged hog traders to lower their mark-up in order to bring downretail prices.
DA Assistant Secretary Kristine Y. Evangelista said in a Laging Handa briefing Friday that the retail price of pork has also risen because some growers shut down operations in the early stages of the pandemic and have not reopened since.
The ASF outbreak was first detected in provinces around Metro Manila in 2019. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave