Roxas hits ‘chicken cartel’

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — Senator Mar Roxas yesterday slammed the “traders’ cartel” for the tightening supply of chicken. Roxas asked the government to keep supply and prices of the commodity stable.

In a consultation meeting with traders and government agencies yesterday, Roxas accused certain traders of “manipulating” the supply and demand of chicken.

But officials of the Department of Agriculture denied the existence of a cartel, saying traders were not in a position to “cartelize” because they can only import chicken in small amounts.

As chairman of the Senate trade committee, Roxas expressed worries when told that 13 million kilos of imported chicken would flood the market soon.” We have a situation here where the private sector has control over the importation of 13 million kilos of chicken but the government does not know when these will start flooding the market,” Roxas said.

For this reason, the DA and the DTI agreed to import three million kilos of chicken to avert a looming shortage.

Last Christmas, Roxas said, the traders imported six million kilos of frozen chicken but the consumption was less all the way through elections.

For this reason, Roxas said the growers failed to grow chicken, thus resulting in the shortage.

While the growers were given 70 percent “threshhold performance” which allows them to bring in 70 percent of their produce to the market “at anytime” or spread throughout the year, Roxas proposed that they be made to account for their supply every quarter to put some “predictability.”

The DA and DTI agreed to amend the guidelines according to Roxas’ proposal.

“We cannot just allow these big players to dictate when they want to flood the market. We have to put some consistency and predictability on the minimum access volume to ensure security and steadiness of supply,” Roxas said.

“This way, the government could preempt the cartel and manipulation of supply,” the senator said.

Before Oct. 31 this year, Roxas said the government would import three million kilos to avert shortage of chicken.

The chicken meat will come from the United States and Canada.

The country, Roxas said, consumes 30 million kilos of chicken each month.

“We have a case here where the traders had over importation last December but consumption was less until after the elections. The producers waited to grow. So nobody is unloading and this would lead to shortage,” Roxas said.

Roxas also said the traders were also supposed to provide the government data on the “peaks and troughs” of their supplies.

“Let us just import. Because if these MAV holders do not come along, then we will have a bigger problem this Christmas,” Roxas said.