By Sheldeen Joy Talavera
THE poultry industry needs a data system that will provide a clear picture of supply to guide import decisions, an industry official said.
United Broiler Raisers Association (UBRA) President Elias Jose M. Inciong said the volume of chicken imports has increased compared to last year, which he blamed on unreliable demand projections by importers.
“The importers (will project) an increase in demand; apparently they are wrong. That is the problem with not having a data system with buy-in from everyone, especially the stakeholders,” he said.
“When you do not have an information and data system in accordance with the law, policy decisions and business decisions will end up being wrong,” he added.
The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) estimates that chicken imports in the four months to April amounted to 131 million kilograms, up from 102 million a year earlier.
The Department of Agriculture (DA), Mr. Inciong said, puts the chicken supply and demand balance this year at a surplus equivalent to 110 days’ consumption, less the 128 days earlier projected by the National Livestock Program (NLP).
“We already have the actual local production data for (the first quarter) and we plugged it in. Same with pork, instead of an 18-day deficit, it is now down to five days based on annual data,” said NLP Director Ruth S. Sonaco in a Viber message.
Ms. Sonaco earlier said chicken production is estimated at 2.08 million metric tons (MT) liveweight, against demand of nearly 1.6 million MT.
Meanwhile, Mr. Inciong said that demand and farmgate price of chicken are still “very low” but noted the large gap between the farmgate price and the average retail price.
He said that the current average farmgate price of chicken was P95 while the prevailing price in Metro Manila markets was between P150 and P200, according to DA price monitors.
In a meeting with DA and BAI officials last week, UBRA expressed its concern on the potential for human-to-human transmission of avian influenza A(H3N8).
“When you’re planning, you plan for the worst scenario and the worst scenario for bird flu is human-to-human transmission,” Mr. Inciong said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported last month the first human death from the person-to-person transmission of the A(H3N8) strain in China. This was also the third reported human infection.
“Based on available information, it appears that this virus does not have the ability to spread easily from person to person, and therefore the risk of it spreading among humans at the national, regional, and international levels is considered to be low,” the WHO said in a report on April 11.
It said that the A(H3N8) strain is typically detected in animals and “most commonly found subtypes in birds, causing little to no sign of disease in either domestic poultry or wild birds.”
No cases of the AI strain have been detected so far in the Philippines, according to the Department of Health.