FILIPINO farming entrepreneurs should take advantage of the country’s privileged access to European markets where demand for healthy food products has surged during the pandemic, the local unit of FedEx Corp. said in a report.

“The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has touted the market potential of Philippine agricultural products, especially in the European Union (EU) and the UK, where there is heavy demand for wellness-focused food products,” FedEx Express Philippines said.

“The demand for immunity-boosting, nutritious foods and beverages has surged as a result of the pandemic,” it added.

Separately, the European Snacks Association (ESA) reported that food products containing traditional and raw materials are gaining popularity among average consumers and more people are becoming conscious of the nutritional content of the food they consume.

In its report, FedEx Philippines said the Philippines enjoys privileged trading access to both the EU and the United Kingdom (UK) but Filipino small and medium-sized enterprises’ (SMEs) exporting power remains largely untapped.

“Some of the SMEs’ export-related challenges include their inability to adapt to changing market conditions and consumer preferences in export markets, as well as their low production capabilities. Furthermore, compliance with regulatory requirements and quality standards, both in local and potential export markets, also pose challenges to the entry of Philippines SMEs into the export market,” it said.

“The Philippines is one of the beneficiary-countries of the EU Generalized Scheme of Preference Plus (GSP+) that grants zero tariffs to 6,274 product lines. The same trade benefits are in place with the UK, which implemented its own GSP to mirror the EU’s GSP+ scheme after Brexit,” the company added.

The products included in this scheme are some varieties of fish, dairy, fruits, vegetables, coconut oil, coffee, cocoa, tobacco, chemicals, fertilizers, essential oils, soaps, and other commodities.

In 2021, the Department of Trade and Industry reported the “promising possibilities” of Philippine products such as processed fruits, calamansi, coconut, butterfly pea, and moringa.

“However, the EU continues to be a largely untapped market for Filipino producers, with products exported only to a select few European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA) countries. UK government statistics show that the Philippines lag behind other beneficiary countries in imports and utilization rate,” FedEx Philippines said.

The delivery services company said that for businesses to break into the international market, they must look into trade and logistics arrangements.

“The DTI’s Export Marketing Bureau (EMB) offers assistance to producers getting ready to venture beyond Philippine shores and also helps with connecting them with foreign buyers. SMEs can leverage trade agreements by focusing on global markets where their products are in demand and where beyond-the-border barriers are manageable,” it said.

“Logistics service providers who are well-versed in facilitating cross-border trade for their customers, such as FedEx, can play a critical role in helping to simplify complex processes for SMEs so that they can prosper globally. As a logistics service provider, we can guide businesses on the right packaging solutions to ensure that goods, especially perishable items, are delivered safely and securely,” it added. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson