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DA lifts import ban on chicken MDM from The Netherlands

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has partially lifted the importation of mechanically deboned chicken meat, or MDM, from certain areas in The Netherlands that have been cleared of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

The DA issued Memorandum Order (MO) 27 dated April 6, 2021, which would allow meat importer-processors (MIPs) with thermal processing equipment to import MDM from the certain parts of The Netherlands that have declared as “free zones” by the Organization for Animal Health (OIE) from the HPAI virus.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the lifting of the import ban was meant  to address the shortage of affordable MDM in the country. He added the agency has considered the appeals by the MIPs for DA to reconsider on the acceptance of regionalization of countries, which have been recently suspended due to the presence of HPAI.

Earlier, the DA issued Memorandum Order (MO) 03, Series of 2021, imposing a temporary ban on the importation of domestic and wild birds and their products, including poultry meat, day old chicks and eggs amid widespread outbreaks of HPAI in several areas in The Netherlands.

“Regionalization or zoning surveillance measures are accepted practices recognized by the World Organisation of Animal Health and the World Trade Organization,” Dar said.

According to Dar, the veterinary authorities of The Netherlands have submitted documents to the Philippine government reflecting their ongoing disease-control measures and the different countries that continue to accept poultry products from them.

He said a joint team composed of technical members of the Bureau of Animal Industry and National Meat Inspection Service will be created to conduct an evaluation of selected meat processing plants with available thermal processing equipment in their facilities.

Dar said only accredited MIPs that were evaluated and have complied with the requirements shall be allowed to import MDM from HPAI-free zones from The Netherlands.

The Netherlands is one of the country’s top sources of imported MDM of chicken, a raw material used in making processed meat products, such as hotdogs.

Earlier, the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (Pampi) said some of its member-companies have filed a price increase petition with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) due to rising raw material prices caused by tight supply worsened by shipping delays.

Pampi Vice President Jerome D. Ong has recently told the BusinessMirror their buying price for MDM has more than doubled to $1.5 per kilogram CIF (cost, insurance and freight) due to a series of bans on major import sources by the government.

Ong said the price of MDM only ranged from $0.5 to $0.6 CIF from last year to $1.2 to $1.5 CIF today.

“We are deeply concerned with the shortage of MDM because of the series of bans. The highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks has resulted in country-wide bans across European countries, which are our major sources of MDM,” he said.

The increase in prices of raw materials, Ong said, could lead to a price hike of as much as 25 percent—an inopportune time when the industry’s stockpile is dwindling as well.

He also disclosed that the industry’s processed goods inventory is ranging from 21 to 30 days, while its raw material inventory is at about the same level. This means that after one and a half months to two months, local meat processors would be utilizing higher-priced chicken MDM, thus, forcing them to increase their prices.

Since last year, the DA has suspended the importation of poultry products from European areas, which eventually expanded to country-wide bans that have confirmed outbreaks of bird flu.

To date, the European countries that are banned from exporting poultry products to the Philippines are Denmark, France, Sweden, United Kingdom, Russia, Czech Republic, Poland and Germany. Likewise two areas in two European countries are also banned: Menen municipality in Belgium and Kerekegyháza town in Hungary.

Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) data showed that Europe accounts for 60 percent of the country’s chicken MDM supply. With the suspensions in place, the country has lost half of its supply base, leaving Belgium as the lone European country where processors can source their chicken MDM.

Belgium accounts for about 12 percent of the country’s annual chicken MDM supply.

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