THE Philippines, the world’s second top exporter of bananas, is losing market share for the prized yellow fruit in key Asian markets to neighboring countries like Vietnam and Cambodia as well as Latin American producers, international trade data showed.
Trade map data of multilateral International Trade Centre analyzed by the BusinessMirror showed that the Philippines’s market share for bananas in China, Japan, and South Korea has been shrinking in recent years, as domestic exporters have warned.
In China, Philippine banana’s market share (in terms of volume) fell to its lowest since 2001 to 45.52 percent from a peak of 91.52 percent in 2007. This is the first time since 2001 that the Philippines did not capture at least half of China’s banana market.
Trade map data showed that the Philippines’s share in the Chinese banana market contracted for the third straight year since 2017, when the country held 70 percent of the market.
Trade map data showed that China’s banana imports from the Philippines last year declined 23 percent to 795,477 metric tons (MT), the lowest in three years.
On the other hand, China’s banana imports from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos grew exponentially in recent years, based on trade map data.
Vietnam’s banana exports to China last year grew by 2 percent to a record-high 282,982 MT, raising its market share to 16 percent from 14 percent.
China’s banana imports from Cambodia last year ballooned by 1,277 percent to 241,239 MT while total purchases from Laos expanded by 744 percent to 69,867 MT, trade map data showed.
With the hike in exports, Cambodia’s share in China’s banana market grew to 13.8 percent from less than 1 percent while Laos’s share grew to 4 percent from a mere 0.42-percent share.
China’s total banana imports last year declined 10 percent to 1.747 million MT from 1.93 million MT in 2019, trade map data showed.
The Philippines’s share in the Japanese banana market last year declined to 74 percent from 77 percent as purchases by the East Asian country from the Philippines fell 10 percent to 260,795 MT.
In South Korea, the Philippines’s banana market share fell to 75 percent from 80 percent. South Korea’s banana imports from the Philippines last year declined by nearly 4 percent to 804,348 MT from 836,950 MT in 2019.
Trade map data showed that South Korea’s banana imports from four Latin American producers, namely, Ecuador, Mexico, Guatemala and Costa Rica, expanded last year.
South Korea’s banana purchase from Ecuador grew 14.16 percent to 136,190 MT; from Mexico by 46.49 percent to 79,526 MT; from Guatemala by 67.42 percent to 21,094 MT, and from Costa Rica by 69.76 percent to 5,889 MT.
Ecuador’s share in South Korea’s banana market grew to 12.74 percent from 11.4 percent followed by Mexico’s (7.44 percent from 5.2 percent), Guatemala (1.97 percent from 1.2 percent) and Costa Rica (0.55 percent from 0.33 percent).
Losing millions of dollars
Value wise, the Philippines is losing millions of dollars due to its shrinking market share in its three key Asian markets.
In China alone, the Philippines lost $149.253 million last year due to contraction in exports while Cambodia and Vietnam tallied a combined additional export revenue of $144.973 million, trade map data showed.
The Philippines lost $31.248 million worth of export revenues in South Korea last year while Colombia and Vietnam earned an additional $20.086 million and $702,000 respectively.
In Japan, the Philippines lost $14.85 million worth of export revenues last year. Japan imported an additional $11.87 million worth of bananas from Ecuador and $2.438 million bananas from Vietnam last year.
The Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) have repeatedly stated that the Philippines’s stronghold in South Korea’s banana market is threatened by recent free trade agreements signed by Seoul allowing entry of bananas from countries like Central America at lower tariff rates.
Furthermore, PBGEA recently warned that China has started to buy from neighboring countries like Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, resulting in Filipinos losing export contracts in the East Asian country.
The situation abroad worsened internal problems faced by the banana industry, particularly the continuous contraction in domestic output due to diseases such as Fusarium Wilt or Panama disease.
For this year, the outlook for the country’s precious yellow fruit export would “not be promising,” as other banana exports have “easily filled in the supply gaps” that the Philippines created in its key markets, PBGEA said.
The country’s total banana exports last year declined by 15.61 percent to 3 MMT from 3.555 MMT in 2019, based on Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data. PSA data showed export receipt from bananas last year declined 16.2 percent to $1.377 billion from $1.643 billion.