Meat importers brace for supply woes

    Added blow. Small entrepreneurs selling anything from longganisa to kikiam rely on both local and imported raw materials.

    Meat importers are bracing for more supply issues that could aggravate the woes of the sector and push up prices of processed meats.

    Jess Cham, president of the Meat Importers and Traders Association (MITA) in a statement over the weekend expressed hope Brazil’s planned protest against the Philippines over the latter’s ban on poultry imports will not spill over to beef and pork.

    Cham said the meat processing industry is facing another threat, the looming increase — in the import duty of chicken mechanically deboned meat (MDM) from 5 percent to 40 percent in the coming year.

    MDM is used by both large and small processors from canned meats to longganisa and kikiam by independent entrepreneurs.

    In a letter dated Oct. 19, 2020 to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Embassy of the Federative Republic of Brazil is determined to raise “specific trade concerns” case against the Philippines at the World Trade Organization (WTO) for the restriction on poultry imports from the country, adding that the ban on the importation of Brazilian chicken “goes against the precepts contained in Articles 2 and 5 of the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures.

    According to Cham, the ban on Brazilian poultry is an added blow especially for an industry that is trying to stay afloat due to the pandemic.

    Cham said the Philippines imports more dark chicken meat from USA while Brazil supplies more white meat and boneless meat. The impact will be felt more by the casual dining restaurants.

    “However, unlike chicken meat, Brazil is a major supplier of boneless beef that goes into burger patties as well as restaurants,” Cham said, in expressing hope Brazil will not curtail supply of beef to the Philippines in response to the Philippines’ ban.

    Cham said all these will have a painful impact on consumers especially since the price of pork continues to increase amid the effects of African swine fever to the local hog inventory.

    Brazil questioned Memorandum Order No. 39 implemented on August 14, 2020 which imposed a temporary ban on poultry imports originating from Brazil and Memorandum Order 42 on Sept. 7, 2020 which lifted the ban only for MDM poultry meat in the absence of scientific basis for the ban.

    Brazil said the Philippines is the only country imposing barriers aimed at Brazilian products with the pandemic as a motivation.

    Data from the National Meat Inspection Service showed Brazil has supplied the Philippines with 25,083,540 kilograms (kg) of beef equivalent to almost 25 percent of the total imports, 37,235,537 kg of chicken at 16 percent, 4,502,205 kg of pork at 1.8 percent and 52,973 kg of turkey at roughly three percent.