DA to file cartel charges if hog growers, traders found restricting pork supply to artificially raise prices
PCC may be asked to probe anti-competitive practices of entities manipulating pork supply
The Department of Agriculture (DA) has started an investigation into high prices of pork products.
Based on data, there is significant inventory of both locally slaughtered and imported pork in cold storage facilities accredited by DA’s National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS).
As of the third week of October 2020, the inventory of frozen pork, both local and imported, in NMIS-accredited cold storages nationwide was at 38,216 metric tons (MT), 55% more than the same period in 2019.
Likewise, the inventory of frozen local and imported dressed chicken and chicken parts was 260% more, at 83,266 MT versus 22,953 MT in 2019.
“This slow drawdown or small demand for frozen meat indicates that most Filipinos prefer ‘fresh’ or newly-slaughtered meat, or traders are holding off the supply to artificially jack up prices,” Agricuture Secretary William Dar said in a statement.
“Also, we should convince our countrymen to consume more chicken in lieu of pork as a source of meat protein,” Dar added.
He said DA will not hesitate to file cartel charges if hog growers and traders are found engaging in anti-competitive practice and restricting the supply of pork products, resulting in higher prices at retail markets.
“We’re looking into reasons why there’s a very slow withdrawal of frozen pork products despite the availability of supply, and demand has started to pick up as the government opens up the economy,” Dar said.
As of October 21, prices of kasim (pork ham) reached P320/kg and liempo (pork belly) at P360/kg in most Metro Manila public markets, P20 to P40 more compared to P300 and P320, respectively, two weeks ago.
The DA chief said they are also looking at whether the high prices are a result of inefficiencies in the supply chain.
He said the DA will ask the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) to conduct a parallel probe for possible violations of the Philippine Competition Act by traders who may be manipulating pork supply.
DA has an existing agreement with the PCC on information exchange, investigation, and enforcement, as well as action plans through shared resources to limit and put a stop to anti-competitive practices.