Briones: Pork inflation

Publio J. Briones III
·2 min read

I haven’t been to a grocery for five days.

It’s not because I’m afraid to get infected with the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). Although, come to think of it, management should be stricter in implementing proper hygiene among employees, considering that we are in the middle of a pandemic.

I mean, have you seen the people behind the counter at the cold meat section? Some, I’m not saying all, pick up chicken and pork with their bare hands. And no one except I seems to mind.

With that said, I have to make a little confession.

I may have picked up a vegetable only to quickly return it to the rack after seeing the price. I can’t help it. It’s involuntary. How would you react to a cabbage that had seen better days, no bigger than a fist, costing more than P50?

My point exactly.

Anyway, I’m sure all of you have noticed that prices have skyrocketed since the start of the year. And I’m talking about everything, although for now I just want to focus on pork.

Yes, that “other white meat” that comes from the “omnivorous domesticated hoofed mammal” that has been vilified and wrongly blamed for many Filipinos’ early death.

Do you know that the price of regular ground pork, the one that has more fat than meat, has spiked from around P150 a kilo 11 months ago to not less than P200?

The same has happened to the pork chop, the ribs, the loin... heck, in one place I have seen pork belly costing more than P330 a kilo?

Now where’s the justice in that?

The prices have become so prohibitive I can’t seem to remember the last time I had a slab of grilled belly seasoned with just a dash of salt and black pepper, dripping in its own juices.

At least, that’s how I grill pork that is fresh. With the least amount of accoutrements. The danger of marinating and drowning it in aromatics, condiments and whatnot is you may lose its distinct taste. I for one like to savor the flavor of the pig or at least know that I am putting one in my mouth.

But I digress.

Most of us are aware of the reason behind the inflation. No, the Covid-19 health crisis has nothing to do with it. It’s the other virus, the African swine fever, which is responsible.

To stop it from decimating the archipelago’s pig population, thousands had to be culled in Luzon and parts of Mindanao and Visayas, driving the prices up.

But that has always been the problem of having a free market economy where the law of supply and demand reigns.

Perhaps Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia’s timely intervention may help stabilize prices. At least, I am hoping.