Disease-free status to grow Philippines’ trade with far east
“It is really the thrust of the department of agriculture secretary Proceso Alcala to boost duck and pork and other agricultural products to gain market access to Japan, Singapore and other countries,” said Dr Jocelyn Salvador, head of the Philippines’ National Meat Inspection Service’s meat import/export division.
“Philippine ducks have been accepted to Japan this year and a privately-owned duck farm has already shipped 73,040.55kg in June; meanwhile, the application process for market access of Philippine ducks and pork to Singapore is on-going,” she told GlobalMeatNews.
Her comments follow statements released by Alcala earlier this month to Philippines media that Japanese and Singaporean buyers are increasingly interested in importing Philippines duck and pork.
The demand is believed to be the result of the archipelago remaining free from avian influenza and foot and mouth disease without the need for vaccination.
In terms of chilled meats, the Philippines so far supplies chicken yakitori nuggets and Peking duck to Japan and chicken to Singapore. But the country’s overall meat exports are still marginal, so that they are omitted in the national trade data. Local meat processors rely substantially on imported raw materials.
Salvador explained that the Philippines also wanted to boost pork exports to China, with Vietnam possibly to be added to its targets.
Beyond government circles, however, opinions are divided as to whether the Philippines’ meat sector will be able to make the most of the country’s animal disease-free status.
Enrico Supangco, dean of the agriculture college at the University of the Philippines Los Baños said the competitiveness of duck exports would be limited “because the Philippines lacks big commercial producers of duck”. However, he did not see Japan’s strict import requirements as insurmountable, given the Philippines is exporting bananas to that country.
The Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc (PAMPI) sees the prospects for pork exports being hurt by a lack of political will to expand slaughterhouse capacity.
“For pork, there is only one AAA [export-accredited] slaughterhouse, in [the southern city of] General Santos, but they do not have the volume to share much,” said PAMPI president Felix ‘Boy’ Tiukinhoy.
“The government is putting up another one in Batangas [in south-west Luzon island], but that project has been suffering from delays,” he added. “We can only speculate on when it will be completed.”
Higher import costs
Tiukinhoy warned the competiveness of Philippine pork exports would suffer from higher import costs. That was because pig feed relied not only on locally-grown corn and rice bran (a by-product in rice milling), but also on imported soy beans, he said.
Government plans for pork exports to Singapore had existed for two or three years, he said. “But they came to nothing, as the Singapore market is a hard nut to crack for Philippine meat exporters due to its stringent requirements.”
The launch of the Batangas slaughterhouse had initially been scheduled for 2014. This June, the Philippines’ President Benigno Aquino projected its completion within this year. According to him, the project together with a nearly completed poultry dressing plant in Bamban, Tarlac province, will help the Philippines “maximise the benefits of our eligibility as a meat exporter”.