Canned tuna production drops

"In our (Ocean Canning) case, our production level is down to 50 percent," Fernandez said in an interview. The company, one of the six operational plants in the city, has a
production capacity of 100 tons a day.

Fernandez said there has been a substantial decline in tuna catch.

He blamed climactic change as one of the factors in the decline of tuna catch. As a result, he said, half of the company's labor force was forced out of job.

"We used to operate 24 hours a day.  Now, we are on a single shift," he added. General Santos is the acknowledge tuna capital of the Philippines.

Tuna producers here said the increase in the price of tuna products in the international market barely compensated for the decline in production volume.

The price of canned tuna in the international market is pegged at $1,350 per metric ton, an increase of over $200 two years ago. But the stronger peso in the foreign exchange has negated the increase in the price of Philippine canned tuna, according to industry sources.

In the first eight months of this year, the country exported $111 million worth of canned tuna to Europe, the US and Japan, according to the Department of Trade and Industry.

Sixty per cent of the country's canned tuna exports or about $58 million went to the 28-member European Union.

The United States came in next with 17 million kilos, or $35 million worth. The far third purchaser of Philippine canned tuna was Japan with two million kilos, or about $5 million. (Edwin G. Espejo/MindaNews contributor)