MANILA – The potential for Philippine fruit exporters in China remains high amid the huge demand from the world’s largest market but supply constraints limit the country to maximize the opportunities.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) officials told reporters in a virtual briefing on Tuesday evening that the 20th China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, China held from Sept. 16 to 20 reaffirmed the big opportunities for Philippine products, especially durian.
Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Guangzhou Commercial Consul Froilan Emil Pamintuan said since the first shipment of fresh Philippine durian to China last April, potential Chinese buyers have started to look into sourcing the fruit from the Philippines.
“In fact, here in the southern part of China, we encountered potential buyers who were seeking possible sources of durian but the Philippine suppliers can no longer serve them because of the capacity concern,” Pamintuan said.
Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo said stakeholders have to work on addressing the low productivity of local fruit farmers for them to tap the demand from overseas markets.
“It’s really a supply issue, but there is really a tremendous potential for durian,” he said. “We really have to work to get a good market share of the China durian market.”
Biggest fruit imports of China are bananas and durian, with the former leading in terms of volume and the latter in terms of value.
The Philippines is the top source of bananas for China while Thailand and Vietnam lead China’s durian market.
“Our target is to be able to have the same dominance in the durian market, which we are currently enjoying in the banana market,” Rodolfo said.
From January to June 2023, Philippine durian exports to China were valued at USD1.88 million compared to Thailand’s exports of USD3 billion and Vietnam’s USD828 million.
During the meeting between President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Chinese President Xi Jinping last January, Manila and Beijing signed a protocol of phytosanitary requirements for the exports of fresh durian from the Philippines to China.
This agreement has allowed fresh durian from the Philippines to have the same market access as durian from Thailand and Vietnam.
Fifteen exhibitors from the Philippines participated in this year’s CAEXPO, generating sales of at least USD8 million.
The participating exhibitors brought fresh durian and durian candies, banana chips, calamansi juice, liniment, and jewelry, among others to the Philippine booth of the trade exhibition.
Rodolfo said that in 2019, there were 51 exhibitors from the Philippines generating sales of around USD12.8 million.
He added despite the lower number of Philippine exhibitors this year, generated sales remained high because of the value of fresh durian in China.
The trade official also mentioned that a calamansi juice exhibitor at the Philippine pavilion was not able to supply the whole demand of a Chinese buyer, requiring 32 20-foot container vans. The Filipino seller was only able to commit 25 container vans because of its limited supply capacity.
“On the economic, trade, and investment side, the fundamentals of each other’s position in terms of global value chains, in terms of complementation of our comparative advantages is very strong, which leads to the strong interest in terms of investments and trade. We intend to maximize fully all of these opportunities,” Rodolfo said. (PNA)