Food Exports Expected to Recover

Article excerpt

MANILA, Philippines - Although the country's agriculture exports lagged behind other ASEAN countries, industry leaders believe there is great potential not just to catch up with neighbors but to be the leading food exporter of some agro-food products where the Philippines has the competitive advantage.

Roberto C. Amores, president of Philippine Food Exporters (Philfoodex), said at the launch of the 11th Philippine Food Expo that the government just have to step up its productivity enhancement programs in order to reverse the problem of declining agricultural production, which is making the supply of raw materials scarce and costly.

Other cost issues are the high prices of fuel, labor rates and commodity prices will increase production costs.

"Thus, despite the higher export value, producers and processors will gain less income because of rising cost of materials and other production inputs," Amores said.

Amores, who is also the Chairman of the Philippine Okra Producers and Exporters Association (POPEA) also mentioned that there is a need to speed up the market and trade protocols to expand access to markets of our agro-food products like China and Korea.

the case of okra, he said, the Philippines had been exporting fresh okra to Japan with Thailand as its main competitor. But the demand of okra in Japan is seasonal and limited.

To increase export sales performance, there is need to explore other markets like Korea (for fresh okra) and the USA and Europe (for frozen okra) through an expanded support on market research and promotions.

Recently, POPEA discovered that okra can access the Korean market. The opportunity to enter the Korean market would be attained once the protocols are established by the Bureau of Plant Industry Quarantine Service in coordination with Korean Plant Quarantine.

At present, the POPEA has started doing their own market research and promotions of fresh okra through some Korean buyers. The Korean Plan Quarantine officials have visited one of the packing house and production area of an exporter in Tarlac last November, 2011.

To further expand demand of fresh okra especially that of the Japanese variety in the domestic market, new food preparations with okra as the main material will be conceived by a culinary group. …