Banana exports up 113% in 2012

Posted on January 25, 2013

THE COUNTRY more than doubled its exports of bananas last year amid higher demand from traditional and new markets, a government official said yesterday.

Total banana exports reached 3.88 million metric tons (MT) last year, 113% more than the 1.82 million MT shipped in 2011, Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) data showed.

“Our major markets like Japan and South Korea raised their volume of banana imports last year,” Clarito M. Barron, BPI director, told reporters on the sidelines of the agency’s 83rd anniversary celebrations.

The Philippines’ banana exports to Japan tripled to 1.86 million MT last year from 508,000 MT in 2011 while those to South Korea quadrupled to 657,000 MT last year from 153,000 MT in 2011.

However, the country’s banana exports to China fell by around 27% to 473,000 MT from 650,000 MT.

The decline was due to China’s imposition of tighter sanitary and phytosanitary measures, Mr. Barron said, but pointed out China’s lower imports were not enough to offset the increase in Japan and South Korea’s orders.

“Moreover, we have recently received word from China that the quality of our banana exports is improving,” Mr. Barron said.

The BPI official also noted that some countries had opened their markets to Philippine bananas. These countries included Bulgaria, Pakistan, Syria and some Middle Eastern countries.

“We are also awaiting the United States’ final ruling regarding how much bananas they will allow to enter the country,” Mr. Barron said, and added that for this year, the target is to export 3,000 MT to the US.

Asked about typhoon Pablo’s impact on banana exports last year, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said in a press briefing yesterday that “we did not feel the effects of typhoon Pablo in our banana exports last year because we already harvested before Pablo hit Mindanao.”

However, the impact of damage to banana plantations might be felt this year.

Stephen A. Antig, Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association executive director, declined to comment yesterday as his group was still consolidating figures regarding banana exports.

In an earlier interview, he said banana exports may fall by 10-15% this year due to damage to banana farms in the Davao Region. The region produces 60% of bananas of the Cavendish variety in the country. -- Raymond Jun R. Portillo