The Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI) has asked its members to temporarily stop sourcing local pork as raw materials to contain the spread of the African swine fever (ASF).
“We believe it is safer for the meat processing industry not to buy local pork until they are able to assure government authorities and the consuming public that local pork is ASF-free,” Rex Agarrado, PAMPI’s spokesman said in a statement.
Agarrado made this statement in the wake of the positive determination of ASF on some samples of processed meat products as well as the continued warning of the Department of Agriculture to local swine groups not to feed swill to their pigs,
Agarrado also called for the random testing of pork products in Visayas and Mindanao for ASF to “restore consumer confidence.”
The group advised members not to buy local pork until clear and enforceable policies on the movement, distribution and sale of processed pork products are in place.
“PAMPI recognizes the authority of local government units (LGUs) to protect the welfare of constituents in the agriculture sector but at the same time, (we) plead that such protection be also accorded other vital sectors of the economy,” Agarrado added.
Agarrado reiterated the assurances by health authorities ASF does not pose any risk to the health of humans.
He said LGUs are ignoring a Department of Interior and Local Government memorandum circular outlining a unified guideline on the movement, distribution and sale of processed meat products.
He said the ban on the entry of pork-based processed meat products in 65 out of 81 provinces or roughly 80 percent of the country remains in effect which could lead to monthly losses of as much as P4 billion for the entire industry.
Agarrado said demand projections during the Christmas season remain gloomy.
PAMPI is the country’ largest group of meat processors, consisting of 88 member-companies, generating more than P300 billion in sales annually and employing 150,000 direct employees and another 200,000 employees in allied sectors.
Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG), countered PAMPI’s statements, saying it is the imports, and not local pork. that caused the entry of the disease in the country.
“Thousands of backyard raisers have already lost their livelihood, farmgate prices have fallen by 40 percent and demand by 30 percent. The hog industry has lost P10 billion in the last two months. But are we whining now and blaming others for the misery that we are facing? The original sin of the ASF pandemic are pork imports, the very raw material of this processors’ group,” Rosendo So, SINAG’s chairman said in a statement.
So said the importation of pork should be stopped until a quarantine first policy is established and expressed no alarm from PAMPI’s threat to boycott local hog supply.
“They have never bought from us in the first place… More than 80 percent of local processors are not members of this group (PAMPI) and; we continue to rely on their patriotism and support to the local hog industry,” So said.
He added Visayas and Mindanao remain free from ASF.
Nevertheless SINAG vowed to work with pro-local meat processors to produce Christmas hams and with market vendors, wholesalers and retailers for lower retail price of pork. – J. Macapagal