USDA projects lower PH pork imports due to weak demand, limited cold storage capacity

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 13) — The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has lowered its pork imports projection for the Philippines by 10 percent in July due to weak consumer demand and limited cold storage capacity.

The agency noted that total pork imports will reach 250,000 metric tons (MT) in July from 280,000 MT in April. However, this is up by 12 percent versus the same period last year.

“Imports are lowered for the Philippines. While production has fallen due to the spread of ASF [African Swine Fever], Philippine imports have been slow to rise due to limited cold storage capacity and weak demand in the hotel, restaurant, and institutional sector,” the USDA said in its Livestock and Poultry: World Markets and Trade report.

ASF is a severe viral disease affecting domestic and wild pigs. The first case of the virus in the country was reported in August 2019.

Currently, our Department of Agriculture said the community quarantine helped in containing the spread of the virus as cases declined from 60 cases to 20 cases per million pigs.

The department also said that it already started groundwork for the establishment of first-border inspection facilities in major ports across the country starting at the Manila International Container Port.

Other facilities will be placed at Manila South Harbor, Subic Freeport Zone, Port of Batangas, Cebu International Port, and the Port of Davao, each worth around ₱400 million. These facilities target to address one of the major challenges being faced by the department which is smuggling.

Data from the Bureau of Animal Industry show that pork imports in the first six months of 2020 reached 100.745 million kilos, down 41 percent year-on-year.

Total swine inventory as of the first quarter of the year is at 12.71 million heads, down 0.2 percent versus the same period last year.

Globally, the USDA said pork exports will reach 10.85 million MT driven by strong demand from China. It noted that imports to China will reach 4.4 million MT, up 14 percent from the previous projection at 3.850 million MT and from July 2019’s 2.451 million MT.

“China’s demand continues to buoy global demand while crowding out demand from several more price-sensitive markets,” it said.