The country’s banana exports in January plummeted by 51 percent to 186,419.019 metric tons (MT), from last year’s 384,151.173 MT, latest Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) trade data showed.
PSA data analyzed by the BusinessMirror showed that the latest figure is the steepest decline in January banana shipments since 2006.
Data from the agency also showed that the value of banana exports in January fell by 47 percent to $84.659 million, from $159.454 million recorded a year ago.
Japan remained the top destination of Philippine bananas in terms of value while China was the top export market in terms of volume.
The country’s banana exports to China reached 71,386.846 MT, 32 percent lower than the 105,514.553 MT shipped to the East Asian country last January 2020.
Value of banana exports to China dropped by nearly 30 percent to $30.406 million, from $43.307 million last year.
PSA data also showed that banana exports to Japan in January plunged by 41 percent to 63,476.882 MT, from 106,985.011 MT while value of shipments declined by 39.7 percent year-on-year to $32.372 million.
The country’s banana exports to South Korea, one of the Philippines’s key markets, declined by 51 percent to 23,269.464 MT from 47,393.123 MT, PSA data showed. The value of banana shipments to South Korea also went down by 50.2 percent to $12.065 million, from $24.204 million in January of last year.
The volume of bananas exported to Saudi Arabia, one of the country’s key markets in the Middle East, fell 61 percent to 10,564.715 MT while value of shipments in January declined by 65.2 percent to $3.294 million.
For this year, the outlook for the country’s precious yellow fruit export is “not promising,” as other banana exporters have “easily filled in the supply gaps” that the Philippines created in its key markets, the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) said.
“We also need to work double-time in overhauling the production areas badly affected by diseases. We are keeping our fingers crossed, though we will withstand the pandemic, hopefully with government’s intervention,” PBGEA Executive Director Stephen A. Antig earlier told the BusinessMirror.
Banana exports last year declined by almost a fifth to a 2-year low of 3.595 million MT as shipments across all key markets contracted due to weak domestic production.
PSA trade data analyzed by the BusinessMirror showed that total banana exports last year was 808,000 MT, or 18.35 percent, lower than the record-high 4.403 MMT posted in 2019.
Export receipts from banana shipments in 2020 declined by 20.6 percent to $1.552 billion from $1.953 billion.
Due to the double-digit reduction in value, bananas dropped to sixth spot in the list of the top export products of the Philippines, according to PSA data.
PBGEA attributed the decline in exports to “poor production” caused by the rapid spread of diseases, which was compounded by logistical issues, such as movement restrictions to contain the spread of Covid-19.
The country’s banana output last year fell to a 3-year low after it contracted by 1.1 percent to 9.056 MMT, from 9.157 MMT in 2019, PSA data showed. Cavendish accounted for half of the output last year.
“There was a lot of production wastage. The decline in both volume and value were expected despite the demand for fresh fruits, including bananas in foreign markets,” Antig said.
Antig also said the spread of diseases, such as Fusarium wilt, in farms “[was] left unattended.”
The production situation was worsened by “forced work stoppage/disruptions mainly because of the restrictions imposed by local government units [LGUs].”
He said difficulties in crossing borders between LGUs resulted in a “slow flow” of fresh bananas from farms and packing houses to ports. This, Antig said, affected the quality of fresh bananas for export.