Philippine bananas hit U.S. shores

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Philippine bananas hit U.S. shores

The Philippines laid its claim as the first Asian banana supplier to the U.S. after a 7 metric ton (MT) shipment arrived near the Port of Long Beach near Los Angeles last week. bananas small - flickr - toddalert

From the South East Asian country's embassy in Washington, Agriculture Attaché Dr. Josyline C. Javelosa told the product would only go to a niche market as Latin American exporters were dominant, but it was a "niche that Filipino Americans would be proud to have".

"Of course it’s a welcome opportunity for our producers back home and the Filipinos here in the U.S. are also excited to consume bananas from the Philippines," she said.

"That's especially if bananas that are not present here but are present in the Philippines could be brought here, like a variety we have called Lakatan that has a more yellowish flesh."

However, the main variety expected for shipping is the Cavendish, with Javelosa citing forecasts of around 3,000MT for the season. The shipment over the weekend was exported by Dole Philippines on Aug. 20 and was imported by the Dole Food Company, arriving on Sep. 9.

"It has been eight years now. The initial request was made some time in 2005 – it went through the usual series of pest risk analysis, all the rigid examinations before a protocol was developed to list down what measures the producers would have to undertake in order to be able to export."

Javelosa said there were around three million Filipino Americans in the U.S., with around one million in California alone.

"I want to know from the producers what their plans are to export these other varieties."

She said bananas were the only fresh agricultural product exported from the Philippines to the U.S.

"Mangoes used to be exported before but right now the supply is not even enough to supply the other Asian markets; Mexican mangoes are also near to the U.S. so there's tough competition there."

Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) executive director Stephen Antig told GMA News Online there were at least four more companies - Dizon Group, Nader & Ebrahim S/O Hassan Phils, Lapanday Foods Corporation and Tagum Agricultural Development Co - that were interested in shipping bananas to the U.S.

"We'll see what the demand in the US will be. We're waiting for feedback. For now, the bananas are still in the holding facilities to undergo ripening process," he was quoted as saying.

Photo: Flickr, Toddalert




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