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‘Pork imports needed to curb meat inflation’

The temporary reduction of pork tariffs and the increase of the minimum access volume (MAV) for imported pork are essential to immediately curb the rising pork inflation for the benefit of some 100 million Filipinos, the National Economic and Development Authority said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported that the country’s headline inflation rate in April 2021 remained unchanged from the previous month at 4.5 percent, above the government’s target range of 2 to 4 percent.

Meat inflation reached a record high at 22.1 percent, as pork inflation soared to 57.7 percent and remains as the top contributor to the headline inflation rate with 1.4 percentage points.

“Meat has been persistently the top contributor to inflation this year, hence we urgently need to temporarily augment our pork supply through importation. Retaining the status quo will cause 100 million Filipinos to suffer longer from high food prices,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said in a statement.

The continued outbreak of African swine fever resulted in a 26-percent contraction in hog production in the first quarter of 2021.

As the Department of Agriculture and the domestic hog industry pursue repopulation strategies in the medium term, the NEDA chief said the temporary decrease in tariff rates and increase in MAV for pork are needed to immediately stabilize overall inflation and ensure food security.

“Price stability and food security during the ongoing pandemic should be given the highest priority. The temporary measure will also buy time and enable our local hog industry to repopulate their stock, without sacrificing the purchasing power of households, especially those who lost their jobs and income amid the pandemic,” Chua said.

On the other hand, overall food inflation slowed down to 5.0 percent in April 2021 from 5.8 percent in March 2021, as price inflation at -0.3 percent tempered food inflation.

“Today, we continue to reap the benefits of the Rice Tariffication Law as palay production improved and more imports came in during the first quarter of 2021, easing our overall inflation rate. As evidenced by our experience in rice, boosting the supply of key agricultural commodities helps bring down and stabilize food prices,” Chua said.

He added that given the persistence of ASF, the government must continue to provide support through financial assistance, hog repopulation, and the initial rollout of ASF vaccine trials, while temporarily boosting imports to cover the shortfall and allow domestic production to catch up.

The Department of Agriculture said that, to allay the concerns of local hog raisers and to promote fair and stable prices across domestic and imported pork products, the government has set suggested retail prices (SRPs) on imported goods, established an Inter-Agency Compliance Monitoring Team to ensure SRP compliance, and mandated proper labeling to determine imported goods.*PR

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