November 20, 2003



Philippine Chicken Imports Could Surge By 75% In 2003


Philippine chicken imports could surge as much as 75% this year as the government has stepped up imports in a bid to arrest escalating chicken prices in the retail market, a Department of Agriculture official said Thursday.


The hefty increase in imports is intended to stabilize chicken prices, which have risen as high as 110 pesos ($1=PHP55.36) a kilogram in the last two weeks, Benjamin Albarece, the agriculture department's senior adviser on livestock and poultry said.


By comparison, chicken prices a month ago were retailing in the more usual range of PHP80-PHP85/kg seen this year.


According to the agriculture department, retail chicken prices above PHP100/kg are too high.


Unscrupulous traders have been raising prices, the agriculture department said in a statement. Although there is no shortage of chickens in the local market, a supply glut last year meant poultry raisers' profits were seriously squeezed - at one point selling even below production costs. Since farmgate prices have rebounded this year, it appears traders are determined to rake in the profits.


Albarece said poultry raisers plan to cut output this year in the wake of last year's supply glut.


According to Albarece, chicken imports this year could reach 21 million kilograms, up 75% from around 12 million kg in 2002.


Albarece said had it not been for the recent surge in prices, chicken imports for this year would have been only about 12.8 million kg, the same volume the Philippines imported last year.


The additional import volume of 9 million kg is set to arrive in December to meet the traditional surge in demand for meat products the during Christmas holiday season, Albarece added.


Traditional suppliers of the country's chicken imports include the U.S. and Canada.

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