THE government should impose higher import charges on pork offal and other “discarded” parts of pigs, according to the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) and its allied group, the Swine Development Council (SDC), on Thursday.
In a statement, the group called on the Philippine Tariff Commission and the interagency Committee on Tariff and Related Matters (CTRM) to increase the tariff on pork offal from the current 5 percent up to the allowable 35-percent bound rate.
Sinag said, “Pork offal are purportedly imported as raw materials by meat processors but are now predominantly found in wet markets, given the growing demand for such pork cuts.”
Offal include pork parts, such as ears, feet, tails, hearts, tongues, thick skirts, thin skirts, cauls, throats, thymus glands, kidneys, lungs, brains, pancreas, spleens, spinal cords and other discarded parts.
Local importers are playing on “our unique culinary taste for sisig, chicharon, tokwa’t baboy and other bar chow,” the agriculture group said, adding “smugglers [have been given] another venue to make profit at the expense of the local industry and revenue generation from the government.”
“Technical smuggling, or false declaration of prime meat as offal, is evidenced by the fact that there is an overdeclaration of the amount of offal imported to the country and, on the other hand, a considerable underdeclaration of the amount of imported swine [prime] meat, which has a 35-percent tariff,” Sinag Chairman Rosendo So said.
Data gathered both by Sinag and the SDC from the United Nations (UN) Comtrade report suggest that pork offal exported to the country is only 56 million kilos, while record of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) show that “declared” offal that entered the country reached 105 million kilos, a declaration of only about half of actual importation.
The “BAI data would show only 73 million kilos of imported pork meat in, while the UN data would show a much higher importation, at 105 million kilos,” So explained.
So also added that latest data from the Bureau of Customs suggest that importers are already making huge profits from pork offals that legitimately enter the country, since these are only purchased by importers from as low as $1 per kilo.
The group added that “a 5-percent tariff means an addition of only P2 for the importers, [while the same] are being sold at the prevailing local price of P130 per kilo at the wet markets for a 300-percent markup.”
So added that local producers can actually supply the raw materials needed by processors, but processors would rather import the discarded parts for the profit.
The group also said the public must be “made to understand that bigger issue is on food safety. Since most countries’ treat offal as junk and are sold at giveaway prices; these are being processed, packed and shipped without the stringent sanitary and phytosanitary requirements of exporting countries.”