CLARK FREEPORT -- The Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (Pampi) has vowed support to the proposal of Agriculture Secretary William Dar and poultry producers to put up facilities to produce mechanically deboned meat of chicken (MDM) that will supply the needs of the local meat processing industry.
"We will buy all the MDM that local producers can provide so that we don’t have to import it anymore, thus saving our precious foreign exchange," Pampi President Felix Tiukinhoy Jr. said in a statement.
MDM is the principal material in the production of canned meat products which enables the country to achieve food security. Canned meat products have played a crucial role in feeding the nation at the height of the lockdown imposed by the government to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019.
The government also distributed hundreds of millions of canned meat as relief goods to millions of Filipino families.
Meat processors currently import MDM from different countries in the absence of local production. The bulk or 70 percent of the country’s poultry imports is MDM, which is not produced locally.
Tiukinhoy also said Pampi is willing to work with local producers and suppliers to ensure that meat production will not be disrupted by any vested groups.
"We exist to serve the needs of our people and we will not allow any group or groups, whoever they are, to destroy our industry," he said.
Pampi earlier said some vested groups were criticizing the importation of raw materials, which in the first place has enabled members of Pampi to produce processed meat products that fed millions of Filipinos during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) period.
"Since March when ECQ was declared, the meat product imports that are being demanded to be banned by a group of poultry lobbyists enabled our industry to produce processed meat products that feed millions of our people up to today even as we write you this letter," it said.
The government vowed to help local poultry producers cope with the impact of the pandemic. Dar said the government will support the members of the United Broilers Raisers' Association (UBRA) in terms of financial support to help them survive the current crisis.
"In addition, the DA through the National Meat Inspection Service will establish in 2021 more triple AAA slaughterhouses, including a facility to produce mechanically-deboned meat or MDM to reduce imports of said commodity," Dar was quoted as saying.
Dar said the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service, Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries and Bureau of Animal Industry were also in talks with UBRA even before the Covid-19 pandemic struck the industry.
The agriculture chief also encouraged poultry producers and other key players in the food value chain to continuously elevate their game to ensure the adequate, accessible and affordable supply of food for the Filipino people during the pandemic.
He said the government balances the needs of the meat processing sector and local poultry producers to make available more food products for Filipino consumers.