CHICKEN prices have risen in response to the outbreak of disease in the hog industry, though chicken raisers said they were wary of any attempts to ramp up production and imports in response to African Swine Fever (ASF) as that may worsen oversupply should ASF be resolved in short order.

According to the United Broilers and Raisers Association’s (UBRA) price monitoring, the average price of regular-sized chicken was P96 per kilo, up from P91 in the previous week. Prime-sized chicken fetched an average of P93.69, up from P85.20 previously.

Asked whether consumers are avoiding pork because of ASF, UBRA President Elias Jose M. Inciong said in a phone interview: “It would seem so.”

He noted, however, that chicken inventories remain high, and he cautioned against “speculation” over how long consumers will shun pork.

“We should give the government leeway to get this ASF thing under control, and if we speculate that this is something that will last a long time, that is a dangerous business notion. What if it turns out they are able to control and apparently there are serious efforts to do so then you will have huge inventories of chicken both local and imported,” he said.

Chicken has benefited from irrational fears about pork consumption during the ASF outbreak in Rizal, Bulacan and Quezon City. The disease cannot be transmitted to humans.

The provinces of Cebu and Bohol have banned all shipments of pork products from outside sources in an effort to protect their farms, while meat processors have said their Christmas sales are at risk due to uncertainty about their ability to distribute items like ham across provincial borders.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), chicken production in the second quarter rose 3.1% to 477,110 metric tons (MT).

Mr. Inciong said one possible outcome is that the pork situation normalizes sooner than expected and the chicken industry finds itself with more production than the market can bear.

“There is a probability that this is all temporary. When things normalize, (then) you increase production or importation, you will have problems,” he said.

He said it is too early to tell whether production or imports should be increased in response to ASF.

“The sensible thing right now is to not go crazy on the possible mistaken notion that it will be a prolonged problem. What if they are able to solve it?” he said. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang