Processed meat suppliers slashing production by half amid swine fever fears – DTI

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Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez appeals to local officials not to ban processed pork products, assuring these are safe to eat despite the African Swine Fever outbreak in select areas.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 8) — Manufacturers of processed meat are slashing production this season as fears over the African Swine Fever (ASF) intensify, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

He also asked mayors and governors not to ban the entry of these food items.

The Department of Trade and Industry said businesses are considering to cut production volumes amid worries that consumers would not buy canned and cured pork items due to the disease that has hit local pigs.

"Ang worry nga nila pagpasok nitong Pasko... ang demand projection nila, bababa. Tulad ng mga processed meat products, sabi nila baka walang bumenta so konti lang 'yung ipo-produce nila, something like one-half of usual volume," Lopez told CNN Philippines' The Source. "Tinitingnan nila, ayaw nilang magkaroon ng excess inventory na dadalhin nila at ifi-freezer nila until next year."

[Translation: Their worry is that come Christmas, they project lower demand. Like these processed meat products, they fear that they might not sell a lot so they will just produce fewer items, something like one-half of usual volume. They are looking at it as they do not want excess inventory which they will store in the freezer until next year.]

The Philippine Association of Meat Processors, Inc. earlier said some of its members are reluctant to produce Christmas hams — a noche buena staple — as they might not be able to transport these products to the provinces.

Lopez said pork prices have remained low owing to weak demand, as people fear getting infected by the swine fever. Authorities have said the African Swine Fever is only deadly to pigs, but would not cause harm to humans.

Lopez also renewed his appeal to local government officials to lift a ban on processed meat, even warning that the limited supply could trigger price spikes for other commodities.

"Ang sinasabi namin, 'wag naman sanang i-total ban kasi cooked na ‘yan so hindi na carrier 'yan ng ASF. Safe naman kainin for human consumption ‘yan," the Cabinet official said, adding that the ban could also sow panic among Filipinos.

Benguet, Cebu, Bohol, Negros Occidental, and Pampanga are among the provinces which have banned the entry of live hogs and even pork products shipped from areas affected by the swine fever. Meanwhile, a conditional ban is in place in other local government units.

The latest list from the Department of Agriculture showed seven areas in Rodriguez, Rizal; two in Antipolo City; four barangays in Quezon City; and three locations in Guiguinto, Bulacan with confirmed ASF cases.

As for raw pork, Lopez suggested for consumers to look for the certification of the National Meat Inspection Service posted at the market stall or supermarket aisle to ensure that the meat comes from clean and ASF-free areas.