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Group warns of shortage of meat products due to issues at COVID-19 checkpoints

The Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI) has warned of a “severe shortage” of canned goods in April as their inventories could only last for two weeks.

PAMPI made the disclosure as it informed the Department of Trade and Industry of logistical problems in the implementation of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.

“Due to the abnormal situation, we have reviewed the production and inventory of our key members and as of March 19, inventories of finished goods and/or raw materials at the plants are good for 15 days or less,” PAMPI said in its letter to the DTI.

With this, the meat processors group said the sector anticipates a “severe shortage of our good by mid-April.”

The group said Century Pacific has confirmed that it has less than 15 days supply; while Foodsphere has 11 days, and Virginia Food has 20 days.

“Velfram (Franks and Burgers) which has 1,200 stores shut down its plant today; King Sue based in Caloocan will close on Saturday. Other members are holding on for as long as they can,” PAMPI said.

The group blamed their manufacturing facilities’ inability to receive raw materials needed for their production due to checkpoints leading to plant locations.

“Company shuttles for plant employees are being stopped,” PAMPI said.

“Imported raw materials are held up at the port because our customs brokers cannot go to the BOC (Bureau of Customs) to file import entries because they are not authorized to travel. They have asked the BOC to just close the port out of desperation,” it said.

The meat processors’ logistical concerns came despite the DTI’s assurance that  vehicles transporting essential goods such as food, medicine, and medical equipment will be free to move.

According to a report on "24 Oras", the meat processors group, however, that there was no reason to panic.

"While there are indeed difficulties in replenishing our stocks of canned and processed goods, nobody is really prepared for a crisis of this proportion. We are continuously being allowed to produce so we are hopeful that we will recover," PAMPI said.

"There is no reason to panic. Our companies are working day and night to put food on the table while making sure our people are safe," it added.

PAMPI also said that while its members encounter problems at the checkpoints, ongoing talks with the DTI as well as other govt agencies prove to be very fruitful.

“Though the inventory levels of canned goods manufacturers went down the past two days, we are continuously being allowed to produce so we are hopeful that we will recover,” the group said.

PAMPI is appealing to local government units to observe the guidelines set by the Inter-Agency Task Force to expedite the movement of its people, goods, and the raw materials needed for production.

He also emphasized that packaging materials such as carton boxes, tin cans, flexible films, labels as well as spices are need to be recognized as inputs for production.

President Rodrigo Duterte has earlier called out LGUs that implemented its own policies different from those set by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

Duterte, in particular, called out local governments supposedly implementing different policies when it comes to the movement of cargo and goods. -NB, GMA News