The Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (Pampi) has asked the government to avoid trade disputes with countries that provide raw materials for the local food industry.
In a statement on Wednesday, Pampi said the Philippines imports most of the raw materials needed to produce affordable canned meat products, which are sustains the population amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“About 90 percent to 95 percent of raw materials of [the] meat processing industry are imported. Not because we want to, but because we have to,” it added.
The country imports more than 800,000 metric tons of meat every year, of which 50 percent to 60 percent are used to produce canned meat products, hotdogs and frozen meat items.
“The meat processing industry will continue to grow and support its commitment to supply the food needs of the country. Working with stakeholders and government regulators, we shall resolve and mitigate difficult issues together,” Pampi said.
The statement comes a month after a trade dispute between the Philippines and Brazil broke out after the Department of Agriculture (DA) imposed a ban on chicken meat from the South American country, citing health and phytosanitary issues.
Industry sources said Brazil practically withheld MDM (mechanically debone meat) shipments to Manila in retaliation for the ban. The DA later lifted the ban on September 7.
According to Pampi, the MDM from Brazil is a source of affordable raw materials for processed meats.
“Without MDM from Brazil, our cost of raw materials would spike by 20 percent and we cannot pass on the rising cost to our consumers because of Republic Act 7581 or the ‘Price Act’ signed by President Duterte recently,” it said.
“We appeal to the government for an intervention, so that we will be able to deliver our commitment to serve our people through a sustainable food security system,” the association added.
The country’s P310-billion meat processing industry directly employs some 150,000 people. In 2019, the industry produced some 900 million kilograms of processed meat products.
During the enhanced community quarantine between mid-March and May, Pampi members produced about 260 million canned goods that were distributed by national relief agencies, local government units and volunteer groups.
Some 4 million kilograms of frozen meat items were also produced and distributed to the public.