PORK meat products are sold at the Murphy Market in Cubao, Quezon City, Feb. 11, 2021. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said price controls on pork are under consideration in the event that the price difference at the retail and farmgate levels continues to widen.

“That’s what we have to look at, after rice. The problem is… why it is higher in the markets,” DA Spokesperson and Assistant Secretary Arnel V. de Mesa told reporters on Tuesday, referring to the retail-farmgate divergence.

He added that the DA may consider price caps on pork if retail prices continue to rise, or if any “manipulation” is found.

The DA projects the supply of domestic pork to decline to a deficit equivalent to 10 days’ demand at the height of the yearend holidays.

“There might be a need to import during the last quarter where demand is much higher,” he added.

Mr. De Mesa said there is a need to balance local production with imports.

“It is still a priority of our government to strengthen local production; this is the only way to ensure that there is a balance and avoid an increase in prices,” he said.

“We need to consider the welfare of our producers and at the same time that of the consumers, as well,” he added.

The Philippines imported about 59.13 million kilograms of pork in the eight months to August, according to the Bureau of Animal Industry.

“When the imported pork meat comes in, they will keep (supply and demand) in balance,” he said.

Mr. De Mesa said the pork surplus will be equivalent to 10 days’ demand at the end of the third quarter.

He said that African Swine Fever (ASF) is still affecting the supply of pork.

“There are about 19 provinces with active cases of ASF,” he added.

He said the disease remains present in 98 barangays, though the outbreak has subsided to a level where case numbers are nowhere near their peaks.

On Monday, Oriental Mindoro province detected its first case of ASF. — Adrian H. Halili