HAM DEMAND DROPS BUT PRICES UP: Meat processors see P55B losses

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    Star of the Noche Buena. Processors are cutting back on their production of ham and other processed pork due to the ASF scare.
    Star of the Noche Buena. Processors are cutting back on their production of ham and other processed pork due to the ASF scare.

    As the holiday season kicks in, meat processors anticipate P55 billion losses from the African swine fever (ASF) scare amid low demand.

    Meat processors are not hiring any seasonal workers which used to be about 10,000 workers every Christmas.

    Key player CDO Foodsphere Inc. sees 15 to 20 percent drop in the production of Christmas ham amid price hike ranging from 5 to 13 percent.

    This comes at a time when prices of Noche Buena mainstays including ham have increased prices ahead of the Christmas rush.

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

    Jerome Ong, PAMPI vice president, said Visayas and Mindanao contribute roughly 35 percent or about P100 billion to the P300-billion local meat processing industry. This includes processing, restaurants and fastfood chains dependent on pork products.

    “About 65 provinces have (imposed a) 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,” Ong said.

    ASF is now confirmed in some areas in Luzon particularly in Bulacan, Rizal, Pampanga and Quezon City.

    Laban Konsyumer Inc. (LKI) in a separate statement said about 107 stock keeping units (SKUs) or 45 percent of the 241 Noche Buena products have raised their prices.

    Vic Dimagiba, LKI president, said majority of those that have increased are ham, fruit cocktail, sandwich spread, mayonnaise, pasta and macaroni.

    The DTI last week said 134 Noche Buena products such as keso de bola, cheese, sandwich spread, mayonnaise, pasta spaghetti, elbow and salad macaroni, spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, as well as creamer products have maintained their suggested retail prices (SRPs) while six products have lower prices.

    DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said every year there are increases for a few premium brands, and most would have minimal increases. Brands for mass-based markets do not usually change due to competition.

    The DTI said ham manufacturers have introduced new sizes for some of their products for lower cash out to consumers.