Banana exporters ask help from DA, DTI to know demand abroad

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/21 November) — The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry should arrange for a business mission abroad to determine the demand for export-grade bananas in international markets, the Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association said.

PBGEA executive director Stephen Antig told reporters during the Davao Trade Expo at the SMX Convention Center Thursday the trips to emerging markets such as Europe and the US would help the exporters know if they can respond to the demand.

“We will get to ask them ‘what is your demand?’ and then plan the export shipments,” Antig said.

He cited that some PBGEA members had already sent trial shipments of one to two small container vans of around 3,000 boxes as early as last year to the United States, Milan and Rome.

He said they were hoping to send more trial shipments before the end of the year.

He added that the reception to the Philippine bananas was high, except that there were additional demands such as additional nettings for the packs to prevent the presence of fruit flies in the case of ripe banana.

In Asia, Japan has become a more viable market for bananas, with average prices reaching $5 to $6 per box.

China, meanwhile, is beginning to produce its own bananas, and is looking to exporting to countries like Ecuador.

Antig said the exporters could not ship more bananas to Japan as it might drive down the prices.

Supply from Davao region, he said, was still not enough, lacking 7-10% more for the third quarter of 2014.

At the moment, Russia and former Soviet states such as Ukraine are emerging markets for Cavendish coming from the region.

In the case of US and European markets, Antig said the business missions could also help educate trans-Pacific markets that technology already exists to keep the products fresh even if the voyages take 36 days.

“Shippers like Maersk have developed technology like StarCare (a controlled atmosphere container system),” he said.

At the moment, potential clients still think that bananas from Ecuador had better quality. (MindaNews)