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DA orders probe on pork hoarders

William Dar
Agriculture Secretary William Dar

AGRICULTURE Secretary William Dar has ordered an investigation on possible deliberate effort of traders in hoarding pork products in the market that could possibly cause an increase in prices.

Dar issued the order as he warned that the department will not hesitate to file cartel charges if hog growers and traders were found engaging in anti-competitive practices and restricting supply of pork products, resulting in higher prices at retail markets.

He stressed that there are no reasons for hog growers and traders to increase their prcies since there is enough supply of pork products.

“We’re looking into reasons why there’s very slow withdrawal of frozen pork products despite the availability of supply, and demand has started to pick up as the government opens up the economy,” Dar said.

Based on data, there is a significant inventory of both locally-slaughtered and imported pork in cold storage facilities accredited by the DA’s National Meat Inspection Service (DA-NMIS).

As of 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 the same period in 2019, at 38,216 metric tons(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,” Dar explained.

Also, we should convince our countrymen to consume more chicken in lieu of pork as source of meat protein,” the DA chief added.

As of Oct. 21, prices of kasim (pork ham) reached P320/kg and liempo (pork belly) at P360/kg in most Metro Manila public markets, P20 to P40 more compared to P300 and P320, respectively, two weeks ago.

Dar said they are also looking at whether the high prices were a result of inefficiencies in the supply chain.

He added that the DA will ask the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) to also conduct a parallel probe for possible violation 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.

Publication Source :    People's Tonight