Editorial: Widening horizons

IT ONLY makes sense.

Metro Cebu is the biggest market after the National Capital Region. So it is home to the second biggest concentration of fast-food outlets in the country.

That sector has been hard-hit by the outbreak of the African swine fever.

When thousands of pigs in Bulacan and Rizal in Luzon were culled after they tested positive for the virus, Cebu shut its doors to any importation of live hogs and pork-related products and byproducts as well as all kinds of meat and any kind of food product that has been stored in the same cold storage facility as the contraband items to protect its own P11 billion hog industry. Other provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao followed suit.

For the past few weeks, fast-food outlets that get their pork in Luzon took out meat from their menus due to the lack of supply as a result of the ban.

That will soon change as the Cebu Provincial Government announced that fast-food chains decided to tap a local meat importer and meat processors to meet the market demand.

“They are changing their strategy just to make sure they can enter the Cebu market as well as the rest of the Visayas and Mindanao,” said Provincial Veterinarian Mary Rose Vincoy.

Around the country, sales increase dramatically in the lead-up to Christmas day as consumers, armed with additional spending money, splurge on food with family and friends. Here in Cebu, that period extends to the Sinulog, which means an additional four weeks of brisk business.

Vincoy said McDonald’s Philippines had already complied with the requirements provided by Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia’s Executive Order 23, which bans pork products and commingled meat from Luzon.

The provincial veterinarian already met with representatives from Jollibee Foods Corp. to discuss the latter’s plan to also tap local meat processors.

With the development, the local hog industry not only has the chance to grow but also modernize its facilities to ensure that these meet world standards.

After all, the ultimate goal is not only self-sufficiency but to sell Cebu pork and pork products to other parts of the country and perhaps abroad.