PHL banana exports down 10% in 7 months

File photo: A lady banana trader in the upland village of Tucod, Cabarroguis, Quirino, classifies freshly harvested bananas according to sizes. Hillside banana farmers keep a sustainable supply of the upland crop delivered to local markets in neighboring provinces up north. The rest go to Metro Manila.

THE country’s banana exports from January to July fell by 10 percent to $1 billion from $1.1 billion as Covid-19 lockdowns impacted economies and international trade, Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data showed.

Total banana shipments during the 7-month period fell 4 percent to 2.439 million metric tons (MMT) from 2.541 MMT recorded in the same period of last year, PSA data showed.

Japan was the country’s top banana export market during the reference period, accounting for almost half of the total value of shipments, according to data.

Banana exports to Japan rose by 12 percent to $455.061 million from last year’s $406.753 million as volume of shipments expanded by 15.17 percent to 915,565.821 MT.

Given the increase in exports to Japan, the East Asian market is poised to regain its position as the Philippines’s top banana market this year.

China had been the country’s top banana export market in the past two years, but its purchase of the yellow fruit from the Philippines fell by 30 percent to $287.423 million from last year’s $408.239 million.

Banana shipments to China declined by 24.24 percent to 714,740.487 MT from 943,464.449 MT, based on PSA data.

PSA data also showed that the value of banana exports to South Korea fell by 16.7 percent to $134.409 million from $161.425 million, while volume of shipments declined by 12.55 percent to 296,263.779 MT.

Banana exports to Iran, the country’s top market in the Middle East, grew by almost 12 percent to $41.6 million from $37.162 million.

The volume of banana shipments to Iran reached 177,598.639 MT, 84.41 percent higher than last year’s 96,307.028 MT, based on PSA data.

Yearlong outlook

The Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) sees total banana exports this year to decline by 17 percent to 162.2 million boxes from 195.5 million boxes last year.

PBGEA said homegrown bananas, the country’s banner agricultural export crop, may be progressively losing their share in the world market due to a range of issues ranging from high tariffs, plant infections, rising competition and an aggressive, government-subsidized foray by Latin American producers into traditional Philippine markets.

For one, banana exporters have sounded the alarm over the looming threat of a shrinking share in the Chinese market due to rising competition with Asian neighbors like Vietnam and Cambodia, which have also started to “pirate” local industry experts to develop their plantations.

Worse, the spread of the pest Fusarium wilt and detrimental effects of climate change on banana production have resulted in lower output, hence, reduced volume of exports, according to PBGEA.

The group estimates that 20 percent of the country’s area planted to bananas have been damaged by Panama disease.

As of March, PBGEA Executive Director Stephen A. Antig said the disease has already affected about 30,000 hectares to 40,000 hectares of banana plantations in Mindanao.

Antig added that the unfavorable weather conditions, particularly the drought in Mindanao, are adversely affecting local banana production.

The country’s banana output in the first half fell by nearly 2 percent to 4.293 MMT from 4.375 MMT in the same period of last year, based on PSA data.

Image credits: Ceazar Perante


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