Major PH meat firm feels pinch of swine fever scare
By Tonette Orejas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
September 19, 2019 at 5:32 am

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Philippines —Mekeni Food Corp., known for processed meat products like tocino and longganisa, said the scare created by African swine fever was starting to hurt its business operations.

Mekeni president Prudencio Garcia said costs in making processed meat products for the domestic and overseas markets had increased.

Garcia said the company was having a hard time getting safe meat as supply that it imports from the United States and Canada went to the highest bidder.

Mekeni has canceled orders from accredited suppliers in Germany since June when incidents of African swine fever were confirmed.

Stricter requirements

But the company had secured enough supplies before the Department of Agriculture confirmed  outbreaks of the disease in Rizal and Bulacan provinces.

Garcia said that the government had imposed additional documentary requirements for importing meat and that Mekeni welcomed this move.

“We understand that these are necessary for the moment,” he said, referring to the stricter government requirements.

He said the executive order issued by Pampanga Gov. Dennis Pineda on Sept. 13 that prohibited the entry of live pigs into Pampanga was meant to ensure that the province was protected from the disease.

Large meat processors like Mekeni and Pampanga’s Best are based in Pampanga.

Impact on economy

But Garcia warned that the disease, if not controlled, would “cause great impact on the economy.”

Quarantine checkpoints have been installed in Pampanga and Pineda has demanded that pork sold in the local market get seals and certifications from the National Meat Inspection Service.

While the cost of imported meat has increased by a minimum of P30 per kilogram, Mekeni has kept its prices affordable, Garcia said.

“The drop in sales has not been very significant. We still have the trust of consumers,” he said.

Like passing typhoon

Mekeni sells in United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Australia, New Zealand and other countries.

The company was the first recipient of ISO 22000 (food safety management system) for certified meat plant in Asia and the Philippines.

To cope with the African swine fever scare, Mekeni has canceled promotions.

“We just want to stay in the market. The [disease] is like a passing typhoon. But I’m anticipating harder times with the impact of high cost of fuel [following a bombing in Saudi Arabia],” he said.

Mekeni also canceled orders from Japan because it could not meet demand due to mounting costs.

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