February 10, 2004



South Korea, Saudi Arabia Consider Philippine Chicken Imports


South Korea and Saudi Arabia are considering importing chicken from the Philippines, which has so far been spared from the outbreak of bird flu sweeping across Asia, a local poultry official said Tuesday.


Ruben Pascual, spokesman for the Philippine Association of Broiler Integrators, or PABI, said South Korea and Saudi Arabia have inquired about possibly importing chicken from the Philippines. PABI accounts for around 70% of the country's chicken output.


However, discussions with the two countries are still at an "initial stage," he said.


Agriculture Secretary Luis Lorenzo said earlier this month that Japan, Brunei and Vietnam are considering purchasing some of their chicken import requirements from the Philippines.


Pascual said Japanese health and quarantine inspectors are scheduled to fly to Manila this week to examine local broiler processing facilities. The local poultry industry is eyeing an initial shipment of 30,000 metric tons of chicken to Japan, he said.


According to Pascual, the local poultry industry is also working on becoming halal certified so they can start exporting chicken to Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia. The chicken would be certified as halal after being slaughtered according to Islamic practice.


Meanwhile, domestic prices of chicken are recovering following a steep fall in the last two weeks due to the bird flu scare, even as health and agriculture officials insisted the country remained free of the disease.


Farmgate prices of live chicken now range between 51 to 52 pesos $1=PHP55.87) a kilogram from PHP40/kg a week ago, Pascual said.


"This means that the campaign of the government and private sector is working. The public is now beginning to trust the safety of consuming chicken," he added.

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