Consumers may well brace for tight supply and high prices of pork and pork-related products with the banning temporarily of live hogs and pork shipments from Cebu due to an African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak in Carcar City.
ASF is a highly contagious viral disease affecting pigs, with a case fatality rate of up to 100%. It cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans and is, thus, not a food safety issue; however, it could wipe out Cebu's swine industry.
Cebu is the biggest swine producer in the Central Visayas region, and Central Visayas has surpassed Northern Mindanao to become the biggest swine producing region in the country in the last three quarters of 2022, Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reports show.
Central Visayas was the second top producer in January to March 2022, with an output of 56,670 metric tons at liveweight. The region trailed behind Northern Mindanao, which produced 58,690 metric tons, liveweight.
From the second to the fourth quarter of 2022, however, Central Visayas was the top producer among the regions, contributing 12% to nearly 14% of total output nationwide.
In the last quarter of 2022 alone, Central Visayas produced 56,800 metric tons at liveweight, followed by Northern Mindanao, Western Visayas, CALABARZON and Central Luzon.
Since 2019, Cebu has contributed more than half of total swine production at liveweight in Central Visayas.
Volume of Hog Production (in metric tons, liveweight)
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority
Officials of neighboring local government units have ordered a temporary ban on live hogs, pork and pork-related products from Cebu for 30 to 45 days, following the confirmation of ASF cases in Carcar City, which is known for its lechon (roasted pig) and chicharron (pork skin cracklings).
Among those that have prohibited live hogs and pork shipments from Cebu are Negros Occidental province and Bacolod City, which issued a joint executive order, as well as Negros Oriental and Bohol.
Negros Oriental has advised meat shops, grocery stores, cold storage facilities, and transport firms that the entry of live hogs, pork and pork-related products and by-products, including frozen boar semen, from Cebu has been banned.
In Cebu, Gov. Gwendolyn F. Garcia has issued an executive order prohibiting the entry of live hogs, sows, piglets, pork and pork-related products, and boar semen from Carcar City into the other cities and municipalities in Cebu province.
Another executive order issued earlier imposed a similar ban on products from Negros since local officials reported that the infected pigs had been mixed with those from Negros in the Carcar City slaughterhouse.
The Mandaue City government has issued a similar directive. In his executive order, Mayor Jonas C. Cortes noted that 58 out of 149 blood samples taken from hogs in Carcar City tested positive for the contagious virus on March 1, 2023.
The Provincial Veterinary Office has issued a zoning plan to guide movement protocols in a bid to contain the ASF outbreak.
Carcar City, where 11 of 15 barangays have recorded ASF cases, has been designated as a Red Zone, or infected zone.
Four towns adjacent to Carcar have been classified under the Pink Zone, or buffer zone. These are San Fernando, Barili, Aloguinsan and Sibonga.
Three towns were placed under the Yellow Zone, or surveillance zone, because these are at high risk of an ASF outbreak. These are Pinamungahan, Dumanjug and Argao.
Five areas are in the Light Green Zone, namely Toledo City, Moalboal, Badian, Ronda and Minglanilla. These have no ASF cases and are considered low-risk, but are contiguous with the Yellow Zone in terms of land mass.
The rest of Cebu is in the Dark Green Zone, which remains free from ASF.
Filipinos love to eat pork next to chicken. According to Statista, pork consumption in the Philippines was 10.66 kilograms per person in 2021. This was projected to increase to 15 kilograms in 2022. (MVI/Ventures Cebu)