food prices

Palawan, Bacolod wrestle with soaring pork prices amid supply shortage

Gerardo C. Reyes Jr., Erwin Delilan

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Palawan, Bacolod wrestle with soaring pork prices amid supply shortage
The pork prices in the markets of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan surge to P350 per kilo from P280 in a week's time. In Bacolod, the market price of pork soars from about P340 to P420 for every kilo.

PALAWAN, Philippines – Prices of pork in some areas in the Mimaropa and Western Visayas regions increased by some 20% in a week, stunning consumers and alarming local officials who blamed the situation on the shortage in the local hog supply.

The pork prices in the markets of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan rose to P350 per kilogram from P280 in a week’s time. In Bacolod, the market price of pork surged from about P340 to P420 for every kilogram.

The farm gate price in Puerto Princesa has already reached P180 to P190 per kilo, resulting in increased market prices, according to City Veterinarian Indira Santiago.

However, the prices of pork in Roxas town in Palawan, 135 kilometers from Puerto Princesa, range from P190 to P200.

Due to the ASF threat

Local officials said the city saw a decline in the local supply due to Palawan hog shipments to Metro Manila and nearby Iloilo, where there was an increased demand as a result of stringent measures imposed due to African Swine Fever (ASF) infections.

Rodolfo Contreras, a retired government employee, said he was stunned to see market meat stall vendors selling pork from P320 to P350 per kilo in Puerto Princesa.

Local traders Manila and Iloilo-based traders turned to Puerto Princesa because of local hog entry bans due to the ASF threat that has impacted more than 60 provinces across the country.

Palawan’s current regulations do not prevent the shipping out of healthy pigs, and many hog growers were opting to ship out their products to take advantage of higher prices elsewhere.

Palawan is among the remaining 11 provinces in the country considered ASF-free. The other provinces are Bukidnon, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi in Mindanao, Biliran, Bohol, and Siquijor in Visayas, while Basilan, Occidental Mindoro, and Palawan are in Luzon, according to the Bureau of Animal and Industry (BAI).

“Biik pa lang binibili na para dalhin sa Manila o Iloilo. Ganyan ka tindi ang bilihan ng baboy dito sa Puerto Princesa at Palawan,” said Mike Escote, a local radio commentator and barangay official in the village of Sicsican.

(Even piglets are being bought to be taken to Manila or Iloilo. That’s how intense the demand for pork is here in Puerto Princesa and Palawan.)

He added, “Pag amihan, dito sa Palawan ay walang isda masyado kaya karne ang pangunahing ulam. Pero dahil maliit pa lang ang baboy, binibili na ng buyers galing Manila o galing Iloilo kaya kumukonti ang supply ng baboy.)

(During the northeast monsoon, there’s not much fish here in Palawan, so meat becomes the primary dish. But because the pigs are still small, buyers from Manila or Iloilo are already purchasing them, causing the supply of pork to decrease.)

High production costs

Puerto Princesa Councilor Elgin Damasco said there was a need for the local government to regulate farm gate prices, but City Legal Officer Norman Brian Yap cautioned local legislators about going beyond their powers.

Neither can the city council or the local government declare a moratorium on the shipment of livestock unless there is a declaration of crisis or calamity, Yap said.

The problem in Puerto Princesa was compounded by the decision of many hog growers in the city to stop raising due to high production costs and increasing prices of feeds, according to Puerto Princesa Councilor Laddy Gemang, the president of the city’s Liga ng mga Barangay Federation.

Agriculturist Leonardo Enriquez said the feed prices in Palawan were relatively higher compared to other provinces with feed mills. Supplies of feeds in the province are sourced from either Manila, Iloilo, or Cebu.

‘Too much’

In Bacolod, in the Western Visayas region, consumers were also stunned by the increase in pork prices, which reached as much as P420 per kilo, from about P340 last week, in the local markets.

On Monday, February 26, Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez attributed the increase in pork prices to the inadequate local hog supply of pigs right now, hence, the pork price shot up from P400 to P420 a kilo.

Benitez said the current pork prices in Bacolod were “too much” for most consumers in the city.

The mayor issued an executive order on Friday, February 23, allowing the entry of live hogs, pork, and pork-related products into the city, to make up for the shortage.

Benitez also said there should be an “easy movement” of hog supplies from nearby provinces such as Panay, Negros Oriental, Cebu, Bohol, Leyte, Samar in the Visayas, and Cagayan de Oro City in Northern Mindanao to stabilize Bacolod’s pork prices.

Bacolod City Administrator Lucille Gelvolea was tasked to immediately reactivate the Local Price Coordinating Council (LPCC) to monitor pork prices and ensure that rules are followed.

Contrasting policies

It was the exact opposite in Negros Occidental province where Governor Eugenio Lacson’s issued an executive order banning the entry of hogs, pork, and pork-related products from Luzon, Mindanao, Eastern Visayas, Panay Island, Guimaras, and Cebu, including the Bantayan and Camotes Islands.

Frank Carbon, chief executive officer of the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), said on Tuesday, February 27, that he was saddened by the contrasting executive orders of Benitez and Lacson.

“This will definitely result in nothing. This is very hard – Bacolod will open its borders, while Negros Occidental still closes theirs,” Carbon said.

Bacolod is bordered by Bago City in the south, Talisay City in the north, and Murcia in the east-central portion, all in Negros Occidental.

Given the situation, Bacolod has only two entry points right now – the Banago Port in Barangay Banago and the Simplicio Palanca Seaport at the reclamation area. In contrast, Negros Occidental has eight ports and an airport. –

Gerardo C. Reyes Jr. is a community journalist at Palawan Daily News and is an Aries Rufo journalism fellow of Rappler for 2023-2024, while Erwin Delilan is a journalist based in Bacolod City.

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