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‘Severe’ shortage of processed meat feared due to checkpoint delays

Meat processors warned of a “severe shortage” of goods by mid-April as they grapple with inventories running out due to transport difficulties resulting from imposition of the enhanced community quarantine.

The Philippine Association of Meat Processors, Inc. (PAMPI) said that as of March 19, the inventory of finished goods and raw materials in members’ plants is good for only 15 days or less.

In a letter to Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez on March 20, PAMPI attributed the inventory decline to raw materials (meats, packaging materials, ingredients, among others) needed in manufacturing being held up at checkpoints.

Company shuttles for plant employees are also being stopped.

While cargo movement in Luzon should be, per government pronouncements, unhampered during the enhanced community quarantine period from March 17 to April 13, PAMPI said there are checkpoints between cities/municipalities only letting through vehicles carrying essential goods.

Century Pacific Food, Inc., for example, has confirmed it has less than 15 days of inventory; Foodsphere, Inc., 11 days; and Virginia Food, Inc., 20 days at its Manila warehouse (plant is in Cebu). Meanwhile Velfram Foods Corporation (Franks n’ Burgers), which has 1,200 stores, shut down its plant on March 20, and King Sue based in Caloocan will close on March 21.

In a separate statement, however, Century Pacific assured the public it has adequate supply of products to meet the heightened demands of consumers during the enhanced community quarantine period.

After its letter to Lopez was published by media organizations PAMPI, in an official statement to media, said the letter to Lopez was “not meant for public consumption” and is only to relay the group’s concerns to the trade chief.

“Other members are holding on for as long as they can,” said PAMPI, whose group is composed mainly of manufacturers of processed meats and suppliers from allied industries, in its March 20 letter to Lopez.

The group said imported raw materials are also being held up at the ports because customs brokers cannot go to the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to file import entries due to travel restrictions under the enhanced community quarantine.

BOC earlier encouraged stakeholders to use its online systems for transactions and said it is working on allowing processing of shipments and payments without stakeholders needing to go to the ports.

“We agree that a lockdown is necessary to stop the contagion, unfortunately, we were not prepared for it in terms of increased production and bigger raw mat [materials] inventories. Also, our members operate on JIT [just in time] basis to save on costs.” PAMPI explained.

The group said they “leave it to you [Secretary Lopez] and the IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases] to determine if our situation is salvageable.”


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