Manila and local producers should address “supply side issues” and “capacity constraints” to enable exporters of durian and calamansi juice to increase their market share in China, according to Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) officials.
Trade Undersecretary for the Industry Development Group (IDG) Ceferino S. Rodolfo also said 15 Philippine exhibitors who joined the recent China-Asean Expo (CAEXPO) in Nanning initially generated $8.68 million in sales or some P495 million.
The Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions, the export promotions arm of DTI, said fresh and processed (soft candies) durian products, banana chips, and calamansi juice, were the top sellers at the consumer fair.
Rodolfo said, however, that while almost all of the products offered by Philippine participants during the fair were sold out, the participants face a number of constraints that prevent them from meeting the requirements of their buyers.
“The challenges really are on the supply side. There is a market and what is very interesting here is that the price points for this expo are much higher than the [levels seen] in the Philippines,” he told reporters during a virtual media briefing last Tuesday night.
Rodolfo noted that the Philippine durian debuted at the expo and was warmly received by the Chinese who have tasted the fruit. The Chinese, he said, described the taste of the Philippine durian as “really sweet and creamy.”
The Philippines started exporting durian to China in April, three months after President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. signed an agreement for protocol with Beijing during his state visit in China last January.
Froilan Pamintuan, Trade and Industry Commercial Officer in Guangzhou, said that when durian entered the China market, it gained a lot of potential buyers.
“Unfortunately, medyo limited parin ‘yung capacity natin to serve some of the requirements. In fact, here in the southern part of China, we encountered some potential buyers who were seeking for possible services of durian pero hindi na sila ma-serve ng Philippine suppliers because of capacity constraints.”
“That’s why it’s really a supply issue. But there is a tremendous potential for durian,” Rodolfo added.
The DTI noted that the favorite Philippine fruits of the Chinese are bananas and durian.
Officials said imported bananas from the Philippines accounts for 90 percent of the market share in China.
With the Philippines’s neighbors in Asia currently dominating the durian market in China, Rodolfo underscored the need for the Philippines to work on its supply-side issues so it can corner a bigger market share for its.
Calamansi juice is another product that was a hit among Chinese buyers. Rodolfo said a Filipino exhibitor who sold the said product at the expo told him that a buyer placed an order for 32 container vans of calamansi juice. The seller, however, could not commit to delivering the orders due to supply side issues.
“For example, we need to ensure that the calamansi is available all year round and that farmers should have their own processing facilities which will allow them to process calamansi,” he said.
Pamintuan, for his part, said the Philippines is targeting to ship more frozen durian products to China.
“Right now the protocol that has been signed which provides market access for durian from the Philippines to China only involves fresh durian. The frozen products are not yet included. Maybe that’s one intervention that we can probably get [implement] with the help of our colleagues from the Department of Agriculture.”