The regional office of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) reported that 52 million kilos of canned tuna were shipped to at least 25 foreign markets from the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines.”
The 25-member European Union cornered 28 million kilos valued at $60 million. The United States came in next with 17 million kilos, or $35 million worth.
The far third purchaser of GenSan canned tuna was Japan with two million kilos, or about $5 million.
China, whose market the local tuna industry players wanted so much to penetrate, imported at least a million kilos valued at $1.6 million.
Marfenio Tan, president of the Socsksargen Federation of Fishing Associations and Allied Industries, Inc., said they have been trying to convince the Chinese to change their eating habit, from consuming freshwater fishes to tuna.
He said that if they should succeed, the current export to Europe and the US would not even be enough to meet the demand in China, which has the world's biggest population.
Tan said penetration of the Chinese market would be for the benefit of the local tuna industry because it would mean lesser freight expense and more tax perks since China is part of the ASEAN economic block.
He pointed out, too, that dealing with Chinese food safety standards should not be a problem because local tuna products have already been accepted in Europe and the US.
“The Chinese market is evolving. They are becoming more modern and millions of people there are expected to become millionaires due to the double digit [economic growth] of China,” said Domingo Teng, immediate past president of the federation,.
In 2006, Philippine canned tuna products generated sales of at least $172 million with 93.1 million kilos.
Nelly Nita Dillera, DTI-Central Mindanao business development division chief, expressed confidence this year's sales would even surpass 2006. (MindaNews)