A local company on Sunday shipped 1,800 kilograms of okra to Incheon in South Korea via flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL).
PAL said the cargo flight is a milestone for the Philippine agri-business sector. “It reflects the business opportunities that new markets—like Korea—are currently giving the farming and export sectors.”
Okra used to be exported to Japan and now, the exporter, Hi-Las Marketing Corp. and Jet Farm Fresh Produce, has made inroads into the Korean vegetable market.
To celebrate the expansion of okra exports, a send-off ceremony was held Sunday at the PAL International Cargo Terminal.
Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar and Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez and other agencies and organizations, such as the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), Philippine Okra Producers and Exporters Association (POPEA), were present to witness the acceptance and cargo-loading of the okra shipment.
The flag carrier thanked the exporter for choosing Philippine Airlines as its ‘cargo’ airline-partner.
The government of Korea announced the completion of the ruling process for the Philippine okra market access to Korea through an official notification from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) on May 6, according to Agriculture Attachè Aleli Maghirang in a report to Dar.
Dar said exports of fresh, green okra pods will be sourced initially from Tarlac province, where DA-BPI accredited farms and packing houses are located. Currently, there are four Philippine okra exporters, namely: Jelfarm Fresh Produce Enterprise; Greenstar Produce, Philippines Inc.; AAMC Foods Corp.; and Hi-Las Marketing Corp. All are members of POPEA.
In Korea, Maghirang said okra is not as “mainstream” as radish, cabbage, cucumber, potato, and sprouts, which are parts of many Korean dishes. Some Koreans eat okra as “banchan” (side dish), including “okra muchim” (seasoned) or “okra kimchi” (pickled/fermented).