Banana players pin hope on chips for revenue

The banana export industry in the Philippines, reeling from China’s strict quarantine measures that has resulted in many rejected shipments, is pinning its hopes on banana chips’ good performance in the world market to rake in the dollars.

According to Trade Undersecretary Merly Cruz, the export value for banana chips has been rising by 15 percent every year since 2009, with $36-million reported revenue last year.

Cruz said this is good news since the worldwide snack food market value is expected to rise up to $300 billion by 2015, with 17 percent of that coming from the chips and crisps industry.

At present, the Philippines is the only country exporting banana chips.

Cruz said there are 35 banana chip processors all over the country—25 in Mindanao, six in Luzon, and four in the Visayas— exporting to countries like Vietnam, USA, Germany, UK and Singapore.

“As optimistic as the outlook for this industry is, it has been facing some serious challenges these past few years that could affect industry growth,” Cruz said during the Mindanao Banana Congress last November 8 at the SMX Convention Center.

Quoting from the Saba Banana Industry Investment Study launched by the Department of Trade and Industry, Cruz said these problems include the unpredictable supply of saba or cardava, lack of organization between the stakeholders, lack of support and financing, and the lack of established quality and safety standards.

“The unpredictable supply of cardava banana for banana chips is mainly due to the dwindling land area used for cardava plantations,” Cruz said.

To address this problem, the DTI has been promoting cardava planting to banana farmers and has started to provide financial and technical support for cardava farmers and nursery operators.

The DTI, particularly its Regional Operations and Development Group, which is under Cruz, has also started the call for organization between the banana chip processors and suppliers to help set up standards for the industry, initiate market information gathering, strengthen market promotions, and establish branding.

“With these projects at hand, the DTI aims to achieve a 30% growth in the domestic market and a 20% in the export market per years starting 2013,” Cruz said.

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