DA, PCC looking into spike in pork prices
The Department of Agriculture (DA) has started investigating the sudden spike in pork prices in the market, which may be due to suspected deliberate efforts of traders to withhold the release of pork and pork products to control prices.
Bureau of Animal Industry Director Ron Domingo earlier said the country’s swine inventory had already declined by 20 percent because of the African swine fever but inventory remained robust, meaning there should be no reason for prices to go up by over 30 percent.
Some quarters suspect that unscrupulous traders may be using the viral hog disease as a means to wedge supply and gain higher mark-ups.
Based on the agency’s data, the inventory of both locally-slaughtered and imported pork in accredited cold-storage facilities as of October had gone up by 55 percent from the same period a year ago at 38,216 metric tons (MT).
However, data showed prices of pork in public markets in Metro Manila had substantially increased. Prices of pork ham and pork belly, for instance, rose to P320 and P360 a kilo from month-ago levels of P240 and P260, respectively.
However, reports noted the low demand for frozen meat products.
“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,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said.
Dar said the DA would not hesitate to file cartel charges if hog raisers and traders would be found engaging in anticompetitive practices.
Aside from the agency’s own probe, the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) will also conduct a parallel investigation for possible violations of the Philippine Competition Act by traders that may be manipulating the commodity’s value chain.
The DA has an agreement with PCC that allows the two agencies to share and exchange information and resources as well as action plans to put a stop to anti-competitive practices.
For now, Dar called on the public to consumer more chicken in lieu of pork since there was a glut in the supply of chicken. INQ
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