THE government has started an investigation into the alleged practice of traders or hog growers deliberately withholding the release of pork products to jack up prices.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said that probers are looking into possible efforts by unscrupulous individuals or groups to sabotage the pork market.
The DA he said, will not hesitate to file charges against those who are found engaging in anti-competitive practices by restricting the supply of pork products resulting in higher prices at retail markets.
Secretary Dar cited data showing that there is a significant inventory of both local and imported pork in cold storage facilities accredited by the Department of Agriculture’s National Meat Inspection Service (DA-NMIS).
As of the third week of October 2020, the inventory of frozen pork, both local and imported, in DA-NMIS-accredited cold storages nationwide was bigger by 55 percent than during the same period in 2019, at 38,216 MT.
Likewise, the inventory of frozen local and imported dressed chicken and chicken parts was 260% more, at 83,266 MT versus 22,953MT in 2019.
“This slow drawdown or small demand for frozen meat indicates that most Filipinos prefer “fresh” or newly-slaughtered meat, or traders are holding off the supply to artificially jack up prices,” Secretary Dar said.
The DA chief said that the government is looking into reasons why there’s a very slow withdrawal of frozen pork products despite the availability of supply and demand which has started to pick up as the government opens up the economy.
Secretary Dar said they are also looking at whether the high prices were a result of inefficiencies in the supply chain.
At the same time, Dar said that the DA will ask the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) to conduct a parallel probe for possible violations of the Philippine Competition Act by traders that may be manipulating pork supply.
The DA has an existing agreement with the PCC on information exchange, investigation, and enforcement, as well as action plans through shared resources to limit and put a stop to anti-competitive practices.