Neda: Food supply sufficient
The state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) expects a steady easing of food prices up to the end of this year given enough supply of rice, chicken, fish and, boosted by the influx of pork imports, meat.
Following above-target inflation at the start of the year mainly due to expensive food —especially pork, no thanks to supply constraints caused by the African swine fever (ASF) crisis, Neda said in its latest inflation report that “most food commodities are expected to remain sufficient in 2021.”
In the case of rice, Neda said its estimates showed stock levels would reach 2.99 million metric tons, equivalent to 80 days of national consumption, by year-end. The Neda said the estimate took into account the 1.3 million MT of imports, which arrived in the first half.
It noted that Executive Order No. 135, which temporarily slashed the tariff on rice coming from outside Asean to 35 percent, was aimed at hiking import volumes to further ease retail prices.
For chicken and fish, Neda cited the latest Department of Agriculture (DA) forecasts showing supply to reach 24,113 MT and 73,444 MT, respectively.
As for pork, Neda said that while year-to-date imports jumped 146.7 percent as of end-June, “the government will further augment this through temporary minimum access volume expansions and tariff reduction.”
Citing the DA, the Neda said 70 percent of the targeted [pork] import shipments or 140,000 MT were expected to arrive from July to October 2021 while the remaining 60,000 MT were slated to arrive from November 2021 to January 2022.
“This increased volume will help address the shortfall in supply, which is currently projected to be at 228,343 MT, or a deficit of 51-day inventory by year-end. This also complements efforts to contain the ASF outbreak and boost local pork production, including hog repopulation programs, food safety and ASF-zoning, and ASF vaccine development,” the Neda said.
The government was also addressing the looming shortage in vegetable supply, Neda added.
“Highland and lowland vegetable production levels are projected to reach 342,135 MT and 800,498 MT, or 81 percent and 50 percent of local demand, respectively. To address this, the government will expand alternative farming such as urban agriculture and further promote high-value crops development, among others,” it said.
—BEN O. DE VERA
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