July 25, 2011

Carabeef imports may lower prices of Philippine canned, processed meat


Prices of canned goods and processed meat products in the Philippines such as corned beef and hotdogs may go down in the coming weeks or at least remain stable due to the decline in the prices of buffalo meat or carabeef imported by local meat processors.


Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said this is one of the "benefits" of the department's decision to liberalize the trade of carabeef imported mostly from India.

Figures provided by the Department of Agriculture showed that prior to allowing four more carabeef suppliers from India in January, meat processors imported carabeef at US$2.90 per kilogram. Currently, Alcala said the average price of imported carabeef from India is at US$2.70 per kilo.

In a 40-footer container van of 28,000 kilograms, the price reduction [for carabeef imported from India] is US$5,600 to US$7,000 per container, said Agriculture Assistant Secretary Davinio Catbagan.

Carabeef imported from India is one of the primary raw materials used in the manufacture of processed meat products such as corned beef or hotdogs.

Alcala disclosed that he has allowed representatives from the Philippine Association of Meat Processors of the Philippines Inc. (Pampi) to go to India and visit the plants of the new suppliers of carabeef.

Catbagan said the group is requesting DA officials to join their inspection of the plants in India.

Agriculture officials issued the statement after Pampi, led by its president Felix O. Tiukinhoy Jr. raised questions on the accreditation process by which the department and its attached agencies selected the new Indian suppliers of buffalo meat.

Pampi said the "lack of transparency" of the approval process could trigger a new outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the Philippines.

In a statement, Pampi said they were alarmed alarmed by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala's action because the questionable accreditation would jeopardize their import supply sourcing and worse, "boomerang on us and put the integrity of [our] finished products at risks."

Tiukinhoy noted the lack of transparency in the way Alcala, upon the recommendation of Bureau of Animal Industry Director Efren Nuestro and National Meat Inspection Service Executive Director Jane Bacayo, issued foreign meat establishment accreditation to new suppliers of carabeef from India this year.

The group asked the DA to explain how the department "approved in haste" the accreditation of  four new Indian meat plants: Abbot Cold Storage, Al Quresh, Al Hamd Agro Food Product and MK Overseas Pvt. Ltd.

On Friday Pampi expressed its gratitude to Alcala for his concurrence to a suggested visit by the group to the newly-accredited meat plants in India.

The group said it is the importing group of buffalo meat from India and requested the DA that an independent inspection by the processors' group be coordinated in the interest of sanitary and phytosanitary concerns.

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