Philippines, US trade on pineapples, blueberries to be finalized
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - January 27, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines and the US are expected to finalize this year the bilateral trade of blueberries and pineapples.

The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI) said the entry of US blueberries and the expanded entry of Philippine pineapples are in their final stages.

“Market access is not yet completed. But, within the year, I think it will be finished,” BPI director George Culaste said in an interview.

“The blueberries are for final pest risk analysis already in exchange for our pineapples. We have already written them a letter and the ball is on their side,” he said.

In 2018, the Philippine delegation went to the US for a site visit to look into blueberry production and pest control measures to allow them to do their own risk assessment. It was the US that initiated the discussion amid popularity of the fruit in neighboring Asian countries with the hope that they can also market it to the Philippines.

The US, on the other hand, will still have to conduct its inspection of pineapple plantations in the country before it grants the expanded entry of the commodity.

Currently, admissible ports for Philippine pineapple include the Northern Mariana Islands, a US commonwealth in the Pacific Ocean, North Atlantic, and Guam. Only varieties that are at least 50 percent smooth Cayenne by lineage are admissible.

It was in the 1980s when the Philippines gained market access and another round of risk assessment would have to be done to determine more scientific information such as the possibility of pest presence.

The Philippines is the second largest producer and exporter of pineapples in the world after Thailand and is home to some of biggest pineapple plantations like Del Monte and Dole.

Japan is the biggest market for Philippine pineapples, accounting for more than 80 percent of the total export market. This is followed by South Korea and China.

Other Philippine commodities that have limited access to the US include avocado, mango, rambutan, sugar, carrot, cauliflower, celery, potato, and radish.

Agricultural products that have access to all ports in the US are banana, coconut, durian, garlic, ginger, mushroom, onion, shallot, tamarind, turmeric and yam.

Meanwhile, the blueberry industry is a huge market in the US, with 38 states growing the commodity commercially. The US is also the world’s largest producer of blueberries.

More than half of all blueberries are shipped to the fresh market, while the rest are frozen, pureed, concentrated, canned or dried to be used in a wide range of food products, including yogurt, pastries, muffins, cereals and health bars.

DA-BPI GEORGE CULASTE
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