THE poultry industry said it expects sagging prices to be supported by any shift away from pork consumption if a still-unconfirmed disease detected in pig farms spreads beyond its current containment area.

“In the next few weeks… it will become clear as to the impact (of the hog disease), but there is no doubt… there will be an impact because of substitution,” United Broilers and Raisers Association (UBRA) President Elias Jose M. Inciong said in a phone interview.

“I expect chicken prices to largely move independently of hog, unless (the hog disease impact) worsens,” he said.

Poultry have decreased in the past two weeks due to competition from imports. He said average prices for regular-sized chicken fell to P100 per kilo from P104 previously, while the average price for prime-sized chicken fell to P103.93 from P106.63.

Magulo kasi ngayon ang trade dahil nga atras abante ang mga growers dahil mataas ang inventory ng imported. Syempre they are not as confident about loading. Pag mataas ang price signal naglo-load, pagni-nerbyos, aatras” (Growers have no firm view of the market because imported chicken inventories are high. When price signals are pointing higher they load up on production but they can reverse themselves at the slightest sign of worry about the market).

According to the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS), imported dressed chicken in cold storage amounted to 21,905.8 metric tons (MT) as of July 22, 2019, while domestically-produced dressed chicken amounted to 8,976.84 MT. Imported supply was 40% higher year-on-year.

The Department of Agriculture has not yest ruled out several suspected diseases currently affecting the backyard hog farm sector, nor has it identified the areas affected. News reports from Taiwan last week placed the outbreak in Rizal and Bulacan. The reports also said Taiwan authorities have imposed special baggage checks on travelers from the Philippines to guard against the possible entry of African Swine Fever (ASF).

The DA said it has started to cull hog populations in affected areas and imposed restrictions on the movement of live animals. It expects lab results to confirm the disease in a few weeks.

“In due time we will tell the public… but even before the arrival of the confirmatory lab test results, as I’ve said (we will take) all preventive measures, all quarantine measures, all food safety measures are now in place nationwide,” Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar told reporters on Wednesday. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang