Philippines has reclaimed its position as the second-largest exporter of bananas in the world, but Filipino growers urged the government to provide more support to maintain the stature, amid tightening competition with South American producers.
In its preliminary market review report, the United Nations’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that Philippine banana exports last year expanded by 77.34 percent to an all-time high of 2.95 million metric tons, from a recorded volume of 1.663 MMT in 2017.
“Banana production in the Philippines had been affected by a series of adverse conditions between 2015 and 2017, in response to which significant investments were made in area expansion, new technologies and improved inputs,” FAO said in the report published recently.
“Thanks to the strong performance in 2018, the Philippines regained its place as second-largest supplier of bananas behind Ecuador, at a volume share of 16 percent of global shipments,” it added.
The output recovery of the Philippines, which accounts for about 90 percent of the total Asian banana exports, boosted the region’s shipments, which grew by 70 percent in 2018 to 3.2 MMT, from 1.9 MMT in 2017, according to FAO.
The rise in the Philippines’s exports coupled by the steady increment of Ecuador’s banana supply, will drive global shipments to a record-high volume of 19.205 MMT, 4.4 percent over 2017’s 18.401 MMT, the FAO estimated. Ecuador’s banana exports in 2018 was projected to increase by 3.6 percent to 6.646 MMT, from 6.415 MMT in 2017, according to FAO.
The increase in the country’s shipments would mean “higher revenues, more employment and bigger contribution to the [country’s] gross domestic product,” according to the Pilipino Banana Growers & Exporters Association Inc. (PBGEA).
The country would be able to maintain its commanding position in the global banana market if the local sector would be “more competitive” in its clients, PBGEA added.
“Hopefully, we will be able to sustain good production this year. More so if we improve pest and disease management,” PBGEA Executive Director Stephen A. Antig told the BusinessMirror in an interview. Antig said the country’s exports could decline if output is affected by “destructive typhoons and other disturbances,” that could cause outbreak of diseases.
He warned also that “resurgence of hostilities between government forces and rebel groups” would be detrimental to the country’s banana production.
Furthermore, Antig said they are still seeking the tariff reduction on the country’s banana exports to South Korea in order to remain competitive against South American suppliers.
“We are working closely with the government in finding the right avenues for the reduction/elimination of tariffs in South Korea,” he said.
Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data showed that the value of the country’s banana exports in the January-to-November 2018 period grew by 23.61 percent to $1.345 billion, from $1.088 billion in the same period of 2017.
The value, according to PSA data, is already 19.24 percent over the total export revenue from the banana exports in 2017 of $1.128 billion.
PSA data showed that Japan remained the top importer of Philippine bananas during the 11-month period as it accounted for 34.73 percent of the market share in terms of value.
Shipments to Japan were valued at $509.789 million, 34.85 percent higher than the $378.029-million value recorded in the January-to-November period of 2017, PSA data showed.
The country’s banana production in 2018 grew by 2 percent to reach a record-high of 9.358 MMT from 9.166 MMT recorded volume in 2017, according to PSA data.