The prohibition of live hogs and pork products from Luzon in the high-demand provinces in the Visayas due to the African Swine Fever (ASF) scare is threatening the meat processing sector’s production value.

Due to reports of a possible ASF outbreak in Rizal and Bulacan, the Bohol provincial government imposed a total ban in late August while the provincial government of Cebu followed the ban early this week. The two provinces have a combined sales that accounts to about 10 to 15 percent of the total national sales of processed meat products.

Jerome Ong, Vice President of the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI), said the industry is experiencing the effect of Cebu and Bohol’s total ban.

Ong stated in a press conference in Quezon City on Friday that the Php-billion meat industry and its various segments would be affected by the ASF scare.

Iba-iba ‘yung epekto niyanMeron sa hamon, hotdog, de lata…Maybe ‘yung P300-billion sector namin will shrink by about five percent to 10 percent, or it will go down to about P270 billion to P285 billion, rough estimate,” Ong noted.

“So kung hindi mali-lift ‘yung ban, ‘yung ine-expect namin na minimum na magiging impact…is 10 percent to 15 percent,” he added.

“However, merong ripple effect ‘yung scare factor. Pati sa mga probinsiya na walang total ban pwedeng bumaba ang consumption. So pwedeng maging more than 10 to 15 percent ang impact,” he further explained.

On the other hand, PAMPI spokesperson Rex Agarrado said the ASF scare could trigger a domino effect on consumer behavior.

“Consumer perception destroyed the credibility of processed meat products,” Agarrado noted.

He denied the perception that processed pork-based products are the carriers of ASF virus because processed meats, processed pork-based products are cooked at temperatures ranging from 70 degrees Celsius to 116 degrees Celsius for 40-60 minutes, and at these temperatures, the ASF virus is killed.

This was strongly supported by the statement released by the World Health Organization before. They said that the ASF virus is highly resistant to low temperatures but can be ‘inactivated’ by heat treatment at 56°C for 70 minutes or 60°C for 20 minutes. 

“PAMPI members use pork raw materials that come only from sources—local or foreign—that are free from ASF,” Agarrado said.

PAMPI is hopeful that the ASF fiasco is short-term and that the government will take more actions to address the situation soon.

Ong is urging the Department of Agriculture to create guidelines on how local government units and the industry could address the public misunderstanding on pork consumption.

“PAMPI fully supports the government in suppressing the ASF outbreak via programs that will benefit not only the…hog raisers and the meat processors but also all other stakeholders,” he said.  (RJ Espartinez)