SRP scheme being considered for pork; decision due this week

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THE Department of Agriculture (DA) is considering a suggested retail price (SRP) scheme for pork products due to the increase in prices accompanying growing demand ahead of the holidays.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said at a virtual briefing Monday that rising prices were observed in Metro Manila wet markets.

Mr. Dar said a decision on the SRP will be released within the week.

He added that the DA has yet to decide on whether the SRP will cover both domestic and imported pork.

“As we approach Christmas, (pork) prices have been slightly increasing. This is one of the reasons why we are (taking another look at the) SRP mechanism. Within the week, there will be a decision,” Mr. Dar said.

“We do not want to project the level of the SRP. We are still doing our homework before we release it,” Mr. Dar added when asked to estimate the price caps.

Agriculture Undersecretary Kristine Y. Evangelista said the DA estimates the price of domestically-grown pork shoulder (kasim) in Metro Manila wet markets at P320 per kilogram (/kg) as of mid-November, up P40 compared to October.

She added that the price of pork belly (liempo) as of mid-November has increased to P360 compared to P340 in October.

Mr. Dar said the government also needs to bring more imported pork products onto the market to address higher prices.

“We need to have these freezers and reefer vans across local government units (LGUs). Once these are already there, the distribution of imported pork will be quicker,” Mr. Dar said.

Asked to comment, Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines, Inc. President Rolando E. Tambago said by phone message that an SRP will not be effective in bringing down pork prices.

According to Mr. Tambago, the increase in the retail price is caused by scarcity in Metro Manila.

“If the DA really wanted to bring down retail price of pork, then they have to help hog farmers of the Visayas and Mindanao bring their products to Luzon. The movement of retail prices is a natural effect of supply and demand,” Mr. Tambago said.

Mr. Dar said at the briefing that two new companies have approached the DA to propose trials for vaccines against African Swine Fever (ASF). He did not identify the companies pending a formal agreement on the trials.

Mr. Dar also confirmed that the DA is still waiting for the results of the ASF vaccine trials conducted earlier in the year.

In April, the DA announced that it started ASF vaccine trials in collaboration with a US vaccine firm and global animal health company Zoetis. Ten Philippine companies participated in the trials. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave