Shortage of chicken looms, Agri dep’t warns consumers

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A Filipino consumer is seen buying chicken cutlets by the kilo at a neighborhood market in Metro Manila. ALAMY

MANILA – There is a looming shortage of chicken in the country due to an apparent disagreement among stakeholders on the price of the commodity.

“The stakeholders could not seem to agree on what to do, but I hope they will,” said Agriculture secretary Manny Piñol, in an interview with the media on Tuesday.

Piñol noted prices of chicken have fallen to about P38 in some areas and farmers are losing, so “they should all agree to increase the farm gate price by at least P10 every week until such time they are able to reach the level where they will not be losing money anymore”.

He expressed concern that if the current situation continues, “some of the small players might get out of the business and we might have shortage of chicken by second quarter of the year”.

Piñol said he also ordered for a review of the volume of chicken being imported into the country as this might be too much for the local market to absorb, and could end up hurting the local poultry industry.

A United States Department of Agriculture (USDA report forecasts that the country’s total chicken meat imports may expand by 9.67 percent to 340,000 metric tons (MT) in 2019, from the estimated purchases of 310,000 MT last year.

The USDA forecasts that global chicken meat exports will grow four percent, setting a new record this year. Shipments by major traders are fueled largely by rising consumption in developing markets, such as the Philippines, Angola, Cuba and Ghana.

For July-December 2018 period, the poultry sub-sector produced 5.45 percent more output. It contributed 18.44 percent to the total agricultural production. Output gains were noted for chicken, chicken eggs and duck eggs. The gross value of poultry production at current prices amounted to P56.1 billion, higher by 19.19 percent compared to 2017 earnings. The subsector’s output grew by 5.31 percent in the last three quarters of 2018.

Piñol said under the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement with trade partners, the Philippines can institute remedies to protect local industries from being injured by over-importation.

Stocks in the cold storage right now for local chicken stands at 18 million kilograms while imported chicken is at 16 million kg.

“That would represent over supply. The market could not absorb (such volume),” he said.

As such, he said, big players would tend to lower the price of chicken to the detriment of local producers.

The DA chief said once and for all, stakeholders and farmers “should agree among themselves (on the price of chicken) to protect themselves”. (PNA)

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