Cebu’s meat controversy – Part ll


Local meat

It is very unfortunate indeed that the simple quality issue between local meat and frozen meat has snowballed into a war of words bordering on physical threats by those concerned.

Before the misunderstanding gets totally out of control, there is a need to look at the short history of how this contentious issue came about.

It used to be that the meat sold in the wet market came from local suppliers. Wet market stall owners may have verbal understanding/contract with people raising backyard pigs to buy their animals as soon as it reaches a certain weight or they go to auction markets and bid for the hogs they are interested in.

This practice went the same with carabaos, cows, goats, etc. They then bring these small and large animals to be slaughtered. During those times the slaughter house was normally found near the market venue.

After the slaughtering, the butcher brings the carcass to the market stall where the owner breaks it up, displays it either by laying the parts on the table or by hanging it, ready for sale.

This practice evolved into having a bigger, more efficient centralized abattoir to cater to the increasing population. This time most of the pigs were already coming from piggery farms. Some small and large animals arrived by boat coming from other provinces.

Even with the advent of refrigerated meat shops inside supermarkets, the mode of selling local meat has been the same.

By then we already had a proliferation of meat processors where the supply of meat also came locally.

More advanced countries were having more productive livestock farms, but, they can only consume so much of fresh meat and processed meat, and so the extra materials have to go somewhere.

Frozen meat

This is when imported meat materials in the form of primal cuts, backfat, jowls, lean and fat cuttings, etc, started coming in to this country.

Large, established meat processing plants, until now, continues to import meat materials according to their needs, not only because it is cheap, but, also because the local market is unable to adequately supply their volume requirement.

Local entrepreneurs are importing meat because there is abundance out there of materials coming from advanced countries with progressive technological farm know-how that is cheap and good quality and useful to many Filipinos venturing in the meat proceeding business.

What is happening, however, is that there are importers now who are engaging in the sale of frozen meat in the wet market which, presumably, is the domain of local meat dealers.

More than the issue of quality and wholesomeness of the meat, the argument is more on whether or not it is fair and reasonable that cheap imported meat is allowed to be sold in the wet market.

Is there a fair competition such that the local meat business will be protected and not destroyed by the entry of imported meat in the wet market?

If this can be assured, then it is up to the consumers now to make a choice: To buy traditional fresh meat supplied locally or to purchase imported frozen meat being passed as fresh meat?



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