Economy, Business And Markets

Philippines Scrambles to Meet Iran’s Demand for Bananas

Philippines Scrambles to Meet Iran’s Demand for Bananas
Philippines Scrambles to Meet Iran’s Demand for Bananas

The Philippines is racing to supply Iran with bananas despite the difficulties posed by El Nino to Filipino banana growers, an official of the Southeast Asian country’s Department of Trade Industry said on Monday.

Senen M. Perlada, director of DTI’s Export Marketing Bureau, said Iran is keen to buy huge quantities of Philippine bananas following the lifting of western sanctions against the Islamic Republic, the Philippine newspaper Business Mirror reported.

“The lifting of sanctions against Iran opens up another huge market for Philippine bananas. However, our problem is on the supply side,” Perlada told reporters and editors during the BM Coffee Club forum held in Makati City.

He said part of the problem is El Nino, which has adversely affected the Philippines’ banana production.

“For the first half of the year, our fresh banana exports were down by almost 75%. We were panicking so I went to Mindanao to talk to farmers. El Nino is really affecting our agriculture exports,” Perlada said.

He said, however, that the region’s banana output could improve in the coming months due to the onset of the rainy season in the Davao region—a major producer of bananas.

What’s also making it difficult for producers to supply Iran, Perlada said, is the supply contract forged by exporters with other buyers from abroad.

“The producers cannot easily shift to another market. In a way, they have already earmarked the supply for the other traditional buyers,” he said.

Perlada added there are companies that want to prioritize Iran as their market, since it is a good alternative to China.

Iran used to be the second largest market for fresh banana exports, after Japan.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that the country’s banana production for the second quarter of 2015 reached 2.29 million tons. This is slightly lower than the 2.3 million-ton output recorded in the same period last year.

Banana is the Philippines’ second biggest agricultural export commodity next to coconut oil with a 16.79% market share in 2014, according to data from the PSA.

Last year, the country’s exports of fresh banana reached 3.17 million tons, contributing $1.14 billion in export revenues.