Price cap on pork under study; supply to normalize by Feb.

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    Last resort? The DA is reportedly looking at a price ceiling of P270 to P300 per kilogram for pork which had been selling at P360 to P400 a kilo over the weekend. (PHOTO by RHOY COBILLA)

    By JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR and JED MACAPAGAL

    The government is looking at imposing a price cap on pork, among other measures, to stabilize the price and supply of the commodity, according to Karlo Nograles, Cabinet Secretary and concurrent head of Task Force Zero Hunger.

    This developed as the Department of Agriculture (DA) is optimistic prices of pork and vegetables will be more stable next month with the arrival of imports and local harvest, respectively.

    The DA has also tapped the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to assist in monitoring prices on the ground and catch profiteers and hoarders.

    Nograles told DZBB the DA is stepping up sourcing of pork from areas not affected by the African swine fever (ASF), in the Visayas and Mindanao, to stabilize the prices and supply in urban areas including Metro Manila.

    The DA is reportedly looking at a price ceiling of P270 to P300 per kilogram for pork which had been selling at P360 to P400 a kilo over the weekend. The DA also earlier announced it was considering capping the price of chicken at P160 per kg. following a sudden surge in demand as consumers shift to this meat.

    “We are looking at imposing a price cap on the prices of pork. This is being studied by the DA as we are still under a state of national emergency,” he said.

    President Duterte on Sept. 16, 2020 signed Proclamation 1021 placing the country under a state of calamity until Sept. 12, 2021 due to the coronavirus disease pandemic. Under a national state of calamity, government can set prices of basic necessities and prime commodities.

    Nograles said apart from sourcing pork from different areas to augment the supply especially in urban areas, increasing the supply of alternative meat products and items that can address the protein needs of the public like chicken and vegetables is also being considered.

    He, however, acknowledged prices of chicken and vegetables are also starting to go up but said that there are more supplies for these items compared to pork.

    Typhoon-hit veggies

    Crispulo Bautista Jr., DA-Central Luzon director, attributed the low supply of agricultural produce such as vegetables to the past typhoons that damaged crops in Bulacan and Nueva Ecija.

    Bautista said supply in Metro Manila will gradually return to normal as farmers in the two provinces are set to harvest their crops by next month.

    Citing data from the DA’s agribusiness and marketing assistance division, Central Luzon has supplied 146,245 kilograms of lowland vegetables to Metro Manila since the start of the year as well as 9,467 heads of hogs.

    The DA is also fast tracking the shipment of 54,000 metric tons (MT) of pork under the minimum access volume (MAV) that is expected to arrive by February to March. The DA is also considering tripling the MAV volume this year.

    Pork shipments under MAV are only charged with 30 percent tariff while those outside the program are slapped with 40 percent.

    The DA has allocated an initial P80 million to develop and mass produce locally-made test kits that can detect ASF faster and cheaper.

    Dar said that the ASFV nanogold biosensor test kits being developed by the Central Luzon State University in partnership with the Bureau of Animal Industry, can differentiate ASF virus from the hog cholera and other swine-related viruses.

    Crackdown

    The DA said it has partnered with the Department of Trade and Industry and the MMDA
    to strengthen local price coordinating councils to go after wholesalers, traders and retailers taking advantage of the current tight supply situation in pork and vegetables.
    DA Secretary William Dar

    Metro Manila mayors will identify areas where farmers’ cooperatives and associations can deliver and sell their products directly through the DA marketing program.

    Based on to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, as of January 9, retail prices of pork kasim is at a high of P400 per kilogram (kg) and a low of P320 per kg. for a prevailing price of P350 per kg while pork liempo’s high and prevailing price is both at P400 per kg but at a low of P350 per kg.

    Meanwhile, beef rump is at a high of P480 per kg, a low of P350 per kg and prevailing at P420 per kg as beef brisket is at a high of P400 per kg, a low of P300 per kg and prevailing at P360 per kg.

    Compared to other types of meat, the cost of chicken is stable at a high P200 per kg with a low of P160 per kg and prevailing at P180 per kg.

    Bangus is also at a high of P220 per kg with a low of P120 per kg and prevailing at P200 per kg while tilapia is steady at a high of P160 per kg. and a low of P110 per kg and prevailing at P130 per kg.

    Among monitored fish products for the period, galunggong and alumahan had the highest costs.

    Galunggong is at a high of P300 per kg and a low of P220 per kg while prevailing at P240 per kg as alumahan reached a high of P400 per kg and a low of P240 per kg and prevailing at P360 per kg.

    For vegetables, scorpio cabbage is at a high of P200 per kg and a low of P120 per kg prevailing at P150 per kg while carrots reached a high of P160 per kg and low of P75 per kg prevailing at P120 per kg.

    Other commonly used vegetables such as tomato, red onion and eggplant also recorded high prices above the P200 per kg range.

    Tomato is at a high of P200 per kg and a low of P100 per kg prevailing at P140 per kg while red onion is at a high of P210 per kg and a low of P90 per kg and prevailing at P110 per kg as eggplant reached a high of P200 per kg and a low of P130 per kg and prevailing at P170 per kg.

    Potato is currently at a high of P150 per kg and a low of P80 per kg prevailing at P120 per kg as native pechay is at a high of P150 per kg and a low of P60 per kg and prevailing at P80 per kg.