Philippine seafood showcased at EU expo

by Raquel Bernal-Crisostomo, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at May 19 2011 01:19 PM | Updated as of May 19 2011 11:56 PM

BRUSSELS, Belgium - For the first time, the Philippines participated at the annual European Seafood Exposition (ESE), with 10 companies from the local seafood industry joining the trade fair.

Through the joint efforts of the Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the USAID-Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM), the companies joined the fair which aimed to bring together seafood buyers and sellers around the world.

The 19th ESE provided seafood business professionals an opportunity to reach out to global retail, food service and wholesale companies.

Around 1,600 exhibitors from 72 countries participated in what is considered as the world’s biggest seafood fair.

The Philippine delegation - composed of Ayala Seafoods Corporation, Bluefin Seafood Export Incorporated, FAB Sea Resources Corporation, JN Mercado Food Supply, Jess Aquamarine Traders, Well Delight Network Corporation, Jarla Trading, MS Seafood Supplier, Nuevo Fresco and RDEX Food International Phils. Incorporated - believe that the exposition will help boost the Philippines’ seafood industry.

Leandro Gazmin, Director of the Department of Agriculture -Agribusiness and Marketing Services, said the event is an opportunity to showcase Mindanao’s best seafood products.

“Maganda yung expansion natin sa marine culture parts with regards to lapu-lapu, pangasius, bangus and tilapia. And malaki talaga yung magiging output natin ngayon so maganda nating matarget na market itong European market”, he said.

Based on the database of European Commission on Fisheries, the Philippines is the 4th biggest exporter of tuna to EU.

Canned sardines from the Philippines are also among the favorites in Asian food stores in Europe.

Low supply

Despite having a potential market in Europe, the Philippine delegation hope to develop a sustainable resource management schemes to assure continued stocks of marine products.

Lucie Morales of Bluefin Seafood Export Incorporated said that occasionally, supply of seafood products is low compared to the demand.

“Yung lendings of supply is very low compared to the demand which we do not know why maybe because of global warming. It’s a natural phenomenon which we cannot explain really but it’s not just in the Philippines. It’s in some neighbouring countries, there is a very low supply like in the past six months, we have low lendings which is unusual”, she said.

GEM-USAID however maintained that with the current support from the government, illegal or dynamite fishing would be put to an end.

Meanwhile, in a special dinner prepared by the Philippine embassy, Ambassador Enrique Manalo thanked the 10 companies, GEM-USAID and the Department of Agriculture and expressed confidence that the Philippine seafood will soon penetrate the EU mainstream.

“I’m very happy to note that the Philippines under the offices of Department of Agriculture and the support of USAID has decided for the first time to participate collectively in the ESE and by participating in ESE, the Philippines can now show that it is ready to establish itself as a reliable and world class supplier of fisheries products.”