LGU curbs could tilt table eggs, chicken meat supply balance

LGU curbs could tilt table eggs, chicken meat supply balanceFILIPINO consumers in Luzon and Visayas may face spikes in prices of table eggs and chicken meat with the imposition by certain local government units (LGUs) of inter-island movement restrictions on poultry products due to bird flu concerns.

Poultry industry leaders warned of a supply imbalance after four separate LGUs, mostly in Visayas, imposed entry bans for poultry products, including eggs and dressed chicken, coming from Luzon—a move deemed “over-and-above” the guidelines of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

The province of Aklan banned the entry of all domestic poultry and poultry products from other regions for 30 days from March 2 until April 1, with only properly documented “domesticated” poultry and poultry products from Region 6 allowed to enter the province.

Cebu imposed a total ban on all poultry products from Luzon for 45 days starting March 8 while Negros Occidental imposed a total

ban on all poultry products from all regions outside the province from February 28 until March 15. Pangasinan banned the entry of all quails and ducks coming from outside the province from February 25 until March 31.

The LGUs issued the movement restrictions to protect their domestic poultry industries from the threats of bird flu or avian influenza (AI). This, after the national government confirmed highly pathogenic AI type A subtype H5N1 outbreaks in quail and ducks farms in Pampanga, Bulacan, Laguna and Camarines Sur.

Supply disruption

United Broiler Raisers Association President Elias Jose Inciong said the LGUs’ rules are “over and above” the DA guidelines issued on March 7 on the movement of live poultry and poultry products.

“If you prohibit the entry of dressed chicken and table eggs, then it will flood the supply in Luzon. There will be temporary supply disruptions,” Inciong told the BusinessMirror.

“Prices could collapse due to artificial local oversupply as caused by the disruptions. And by the next production cycle, we might see less supply,” Inciong added.

Inciong said Visayas and Mindanao could also have problems with their supply of day old chicks (DOCs), since transport of these live birds from Luzon to the other two regions have been restricted by national government rules.

Philippine Egg Board Association President Irwin M. Ambal warned that certain provinces and areas in Visayas, including Boracay island, may suffer from reduced egg supply since they depend on stocks from Calabarzon region, particularly Batangas province.

“We are feeding practically Central Visayas, the Panay Island Group, Bacolod and Aklan. And then you suddenly shut us down,” Ambal complained to the BusinessMirror.

“There is an increasing demand for eggs in these areas since their alert levels have been lowered and there is revenge spending and holidays in areas like Boracay. So where will they get their egg supply?” Ambal added.

He noted that Calabarzon accounts for at least 80 percent of the egg supply of Boracay Island, now enjoying an influx of tourists as the economy further opens up with Covid-19 cases declining.

Ambal urged LGUs to base their bans and movement restrictions on science and existing rules of the national government.

“We saw this coming. I cannot blame the LGUs for being overprotective, but the bans could have been more calibrated or targeted without sacrificing food security. There’s really a huge possibility that they will have a shortage in supply,” he said.

DA rules

The DA issued on Tuesday Memorandum Circular (MC) 6 that outlined the guidelines on movement of domestic and captured wild birds and poultry products and by-products during the AI outbreak.

Under the rules, the movement of all species of live birds—including DOCs, day-old pullets—from Regions 1, 2, 3, 4-A and 5 and CAR (collectively as mainland Luzon) to Region 4-B, Visayas and Mindanao is temporarily suspended for 30 days.

The government also suspended the movement/transport of pigeons and game fowls within mainland Luzon and from mainland Luzon to Mimaropa, Visayas and Mindanao for 30 days. The operation of live bird markets in Bulacan, Pampanga, Laguna, Camarines, which all have confirmed bird flu outbreaks, is also suspended for one month.

“The transport of live ducks within mainland Luzon and from mainland Luzon to Mimaropa, Visayas and Mindanao for the purpose of grazing are hereby suspended for 30 days,” MC 6 read.

“Inter-regional movement of live ducks and quails within mainland Luzon is suspended for 30 days. Transport/movement of live ducks and quails from Bulacan, Pampanga, Laguna and Camarines Sur to any destination in the Philippines is suspended for 30 days,” it added.

Under DA rules, the transport/movement of table eggs, salted egg, quail eggs and embryonated eggs or balut from mainland Luzon to Mimaropa, Visayas and Mindanao is allowed, provided that certain risk mitigation measures are applied by farmers, traders and shippers.

The transport of poultry meat from mainland Luzon to Mimaropa, Visayas and Mindanao is also allowed provided shipments have a meat inspection certificate for domestic meat products and a certificate of meat inspection for imported meat products.

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