New export markets for Filipino food products eyed

Angelo G. Garcia

Posted at Jun 13 2018 12:12 PM

IFEX Philippines 2018 brought together nearly 450 local and international food companies. Photo by author

MANILA -- The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is hoping to develop new markets for Filipino food products in some European countries, including Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Iceland.

“The reason we would like to promote our food products in those countries is because we recently ratified a free-trade agreement on a couple of commodities that are under the food and processed food products. When they enter these markets it would be zero tariff, so it is beneficial for our manufacturers to promote in these countries,” explained DTI Trade and Investments Promotions undersecretary and Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) officer-in-charge Nora Terrado.

She also said during the recently concluded International Food Exhibition (IFEX) Philippines that the country is further strengthening its presence in key markets or the country's biggest export markets including the US, China, Japan, Germany, and South Korea.

This despite the downward trend for food product exports. Electronics and semiconductors remain the top export products of the country, covering more than 50 percent of total exports.

“The non-electronic industry, it is right now in the stage wherein it is stable and going on the downward trend and this is the result of the first quarter. This is a different trend last year,” she said.

“Coconuts, for the instance, are in the downward trend as well as other processed food. But we have gainers in the non-traditional areas like new processed food like cacao exports. The export of our mangoes are also on the downward trend, bananas would be in the stable trend with difficulties in certain markets,” Terrado continued.

IFEX Philippines 2018 highlighted the country's finest seafood products. Photo by author

IFEX Philippines 2018 gathered nearly 450 local and international companies that showcased various food and food-related products. This was the 12th edition of the three-day exposition.

This year, the international food expo highlighted the Philippines' best seafood products with the theme “Best of the Seas” given the big global demand for seafood and marine exports.

The expo likewise showcased several food products including alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, coffee, herbal teas and cocoa products, confectionery and bakery products, fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, grains, cereals, herbs and spices, sauces and condiments, meat and poultry, natural healthy and organic products, ethnic and gourmet products.

There was also a big push for Mindanao products. The region is known as the “food basket of the Philippines” and is the country's biggest supplier of high-value agricultural products like banana, coconuts, corn, coffee, seaweed, pineapple, among others.

Products from Mindanao were also showcased including halal products. Photo by author

It is also important to note that the DTI and other local agencies are beginning to look into the halal food market.

The DTI organized the first halal summit last April. Halal is the preparation of food based on Islamic law. Potential markets for halal food products include Indonesia, Malaysia, and Middle Eastern countries.

“We organized the first halal summit in Davao last April. Any promotion effort will have to require first the coming together of the community. Even before that, the efforts of the Department of Trade and Industry was to have linkages with the certification bodies and also linkages with the LGU,” Terrado said.

She added that the efforts to promote halal products has always been there but they are still developing the entire ecosystem.

“Because if you do not share the same purpose and do not produce the right supply and level up our certification process and the support of the religious, the halal ecosystem will not move forward, and make the Philippines ready to capture the international halal market,” Terrado shared.