MANILA — The Philippines is eyeing China, Malaysia and Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar as new market for its banana exports, Agriculture Undersecretary for special concerns Berna Romulo-Puyat said yesterday.

Puyat said there is a need to look for other export markets for the Philippine banana industry as the traditional markets of Japan and South Korea are nearing saturation.
The Philippines already controls almost 92 percent of the Japanese market and nearly 100 percent of the Korean market, she pointed out. Japan and Korea’s preference are for the Class A bananas supplied by big Philippine banana growers.
However, she pointed out, that there are still plenty of markets to grow for small banana growers.
Although the Philippines already has about 87 percent of the Chinese market, Puyat said there is still room for further growth because China’s market is so vast.
In the Middle East, there is even more room for growth, particularly in Bahrain where the Philippines only has a seven percent market share, and in Qatar with a minimal three percent share. Even in Saudi Arabia, Puyat said the Philippines is only ranked fourth among the banana suppliers.
The Philippines’ biggest export market in the Middle East is still Iran, with a market share of 80 percent. Philippine banana exports to Iran amounts to around 50 million boxes. Each box contains around 13.5 kilos of bananas.
Unfortunately, banana exports to Iran are currently encountering some problems due to payment issues and a restriction in import licenses imposed by the Iranian government.


Puyat denied earlier reports that Iran has imposed a ban on Philippine banana imports. She said that following a meeting with the Iranian envoy recently, the Iranian diplomat assured her that Iran had not imposed an import ban but had restricted the issuance of import licenses to Middle East traders.
Puyat clarified that Philippine bananas are exported to Iran through licensed traders based in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Iran has been restricting the issuance of license to the Dubai-based traders but is set to issue new licenses this month.
Even so, Puyat said some Filipino banana exporters have stopped their shipments due to payment problems and the continued appreciation of the Philippine peso against the dollar.

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