EXHIBITORS from the Philippines booked $603 million worth of orders by the second day of the China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, with durian in strong demand, a Beijing-based Philippine diplomat said.
“As of yesterday, at the CIIE, we (had) a little bit over $600 million (worth of orders), most of them for fresh fruit,” according to Ana Abejuela, agriculture counselor with the Embassy of the Philippines in China, said at a briefing on Tuesday.
“Of course, the largest orders are still for bananas, followed by durian, pineapple, banana chips, and coconut water,” she added.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) estimates that the Philippines was the top overseas supplier of bananas to China in 2022 with 41% of the market. Last year, the value of Philippine banana imports was $476.37 million.
Thailand dominated the China durian trade with shipments valued at $3.85 billion, for a 95% share of the market.
Trade Undersecretary and Board of Investments Managing Head Ceferino S. Rodolfo said the orders indicate the potential for Philippine durian.
“We should monitor this to make sure we are able to sustain this until we dominate the China market,” Mr. Rodolfo said.
“The market is big, as shown through the initial results, but this is not a walk in the park. We really need the cooperation and collaboration of the private sector,” he added.
Philippine durian started entering the Chinese market this year, after President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. signed an agreement in Beijing during his state visit.
The Durian Industry Association of Davao City (DIADC) said that the first shipment of durian in April reflected Chinese enthusiasm for Philippine durian.
“I think around 2,300 metric tons of durian were exported globally last year, but for this year, considering that we still have two months to go, our shipments of fresh and frozen durian not only to China but to the world, have exceeded 6,000 metric tons,” DIADC President Emmanuel Belviz said.
Mr. Belviz said that despite the growth in exports, durian farmers still face challenges in training and post-harvest processes like preparing the fruit for shipment.
“We are a bit behind compared to Vietnam and Thailand. I think it takes us 10-14 days to ship or even longer if we encounter problems with sea freight. Aside from this, the MRLs (maximum residue levels) are not yet established, and durian pesticides are still not registered, so I think there is a need to work it all out because there is a big opportunity,” Mr. Belviz said.
Ms. Abejuela said volume has always been a challenge not only for durian but for all Philippine fresh and processed food products to China, where the customers require large orders.
“We see that volume for durian is a challenge and the Department of Agriculture (DA) has been working together with our durian farmers and DIADC to (address it),” she said. — Justine Irish D. Tabile