Banana firms eye Russia as top market – official

THE PILIPINO Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) is looking at boosting exports to Russia.

Stephen A. Antig, executive director of PBGEA, said they will have a meeting with Department of Agriculture on July 5 in preparation for the outbound business mission to Vladivostok, Russia.

“Russia is a huge market that we can tap. This is another opportunity that we are looking at right now,” Antig said, citing that Russia currently stood as the third biggest importer of bananas in the world with a value at reached $999.2 million last year.

The national government, he said, will first have a scoping on July 10-14 to determine if the outlook is positive and check whether the exporters from the country can penetrate the market.

“If there is a positive outlook, the outbound business mission will push through,” Antig said.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reported that bulk of Russia’s banana imports was sourced from Ecuador followed by Colombia and Costa Rica. As of 1997, the organization said Philippines’ share was only three percent.

Data from PBGEA showed that as of April, their members were able to ship 61 metric tons of bananas to Russia, which dropped from 122 metric tons in Jan. to April last year.

Philippine bananas are among the products that Russia wanted to source from the country as part of the recently signed agricultural trade agreement during the visit of President Rodrigo R. Duterte last month.

The agricultural trade agreement, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol earlier reported, initially involved about $2.5 billion worth of products, which Moscow would like to buy from the Philippines in the next 12 months.

“Hopefully, it would be another market that we can tap as we are near to Russia than Ecuador,” Antig said.

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