THE PHILIPPINE Association of Meat Processors, Inc. (PAMPI) said it forecasts a shortage of ham in the Visayas and Mindanao due to local bans on pork products from Luzon, where the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak is centered.

“While Cebu and Cagayan de Oro have their own ham production capabilities, their total production will not cover the needs of the region unless the ban on Luzon-produced pork-based processed meats is rationalized,” Jerome D. Ong, vice president of PAMPI, said in a statement.

He said Christmas Hams are seasonal products and production capacity for this item is limited.

“Even in our biggest meat processing companies, ham production operations are normally a quiet nook at the far corner of the plant,” he said.

“… no company will allocate much resources to this because it will not make much business sense,” he added.

PAMPI noted that the Visayas and Mindanao account for about 35% to 40% of total sales of processed meat products, worth about P300 billion a year. Pork-based processed meat accounts for 40% of processed meat production. The industry generates about 42% of its total volume during the last quarter of the year.

“We are seeing a setback of at least P18 billion for this season,” Mr. Ong noted.

According to PAMPI’s monitoring, 46 of 81 provinces have restricted the entry of Luzon pork-based products to prevent the spread of ASF. Cebu and Bohol have both banned shipments of pork products from Luzon, followed by local governments in Romblon, Aklan, Northern Samar, Samar, the Zamboanga peninsula, and various parts of Davao. Some 26 local governments implemented conditional bans like Leyte, Northern Leyte, Misamis Oriental, Puerto Princesa, Negros Oriental, Dumaguete, and Bukidnon.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) said ASF has been detected in more than 20 barangays in Luzon, particularly in Rizal, Bulacan, Quezon City, and Pampanga, with 12,000 pigs found positive for the virus.

PAMPI is also is pushing the government to draft rules governing the movement of pork products as more local governments in the Visayas and Mindanao ban the entry of Luzon products.

“We beg the national leadership, our President Rodrigo (R.) Duterte to get the four agencies, the DA, the DoH (Department of Health), DTI (Department of Trade and Industry), and the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) to draft policies and regulations as one body, and most importantly to have these implemented,” Mr. Ong said. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang