THE meat processing industry is expecting at least a 5-10% reduction in the value of its annual production because of restrictions on processed meat products in selected provinces.

Philippine Association of Meat Processors, Inc. (PAMPI) Vice-President Jerome D. Ong said in a briefing Friday the consumer scare from the reported outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) in parts of Luzon will take its toll on the P300-billion meat industry.

“…maybe the P300 billion sector will shrink from anywhere between five to 10%… It will go down to about P270-P285 billion, rough estimate, from which will hopefully recover,” he said.

“Yung dalawang lalawigan na nag-declare ng total ban (the two provinces that declared a total ban), Cebu and Bohol, contribute about 10-15% of national sales ng lahat ng (for all types of) processed meat. So kung hindi mali-lift yung ban, yun yung ine-expect nating minimum na impact sa atin (If the ban is not lifted, that is the impact we are expecting at minimum),” he added.

The governments of Cebu and Bohol have declared a total ban on pork and pork products due to the reports of an ASF outbreak.

PAMPI has called the ban “unnecessary and unwarranted,” claiming the raw pork used by local processors-90-95% of which are imported-only come from ASF-free sources.

“The national economy will be seriously damaged if LGUs (local government units) persist in imposing an unnecessary and unwarranted ban,” PAMPI said.

Mr. Ong said the meat processing industry has 150,000 direct employees, and at least 25% of the meat consumption of Filipinos is from processed meat. He said a total ban on meat products will severely harm both the industry and consumers.

“So it’s not something you can just take away and say ‘Okay lang,’” he said.

The group also said on Friday that several PAMPI members have decided to reduce production for the upcoming Christmas season because of the uncertainty over meat distribution.

Mr. Ong, who is also president and chief executive offer of CDO Foodsphere, Inc., said the company is reducing its production of Christmas ham by 15-20% this year. This is also expected to reduce hiring of seasonal workers.

“If the situation persists, (even) year-round products will be affected,” he said.

PAMPI President Felix O. Tiukinhoy, Jr. added many processors are now “at a loss” on how to plan for the upcoming holidays.

“If these bans persist, should we not produce the Christmas products for the Philippines? …[M]ost of us are still down on production for Christmas ham because we do not know if we will be allowed to push this across provincial boundaries,” he said.

The Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Agriculture have said that pork that has been certified by the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) and distributed by “trusted brands” — including meat used by processors — are safe to consume.

“I’d like to make this appeal to the President to help us make the national government (align policy) with the LGUs, kasi hindi magkakagulo (because there would be no confusion) if there is collaboration coming from the different parts of the government,” Mr. Tiukinhoy said. — Denise A. Valdez