Plenty awaits Asean food sector

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Friday, May 2, 2014


WITH a market of 600 million, food producers are expected to gain much in an integrated economy, an official of the Department of Agriculture said.

Noel de Luna, International Relations Division chief of the department, said in a recent workshop for the agriculture and food processors sector that Southeast Asia is a heavy importer of wheat, meat, fish, fishmeal and temperate fruits.

Citing a high Muslim population, de Luna also said there is a growing market for halal food.

He believes Philippine agriculture and food stand to benefit from this if they take these things into consideration, and urged companies to consider these things in their decision-making.

One thing he said local livestock and poultry growers and enterprises using these products can take advantage of is the country’s safe status when it comes to fresh meat.

Because the Philippines is an isolated archipelago, de Luna said it has stayed free of the avian flu virus, making its chicken and other poultry products safe. The country has also been free from foot and mouth disease without vaccination while its seafood is free from early mortality syndrome (EMS), a disease caused by bacteria that is most fatal to shrimp.

De Luna pointed out that using these facts to market local products abroad will be beneficial.

He added that countries in Southeast Asia are a good source of raw materials that local enterprises can benefit from. Aside from different tropical fruits from these countries, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar are excellent sources of rice.

Thailand and Indonesia are also global players in sugar, a commodity most food processors need. The region, he said, is also a good source of vegetable oils, coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil, while coffee can be sourced from Indonesia and
Vietnam.

He allayed fearful sentiments about Southeast Asian economic integration, saying that even with nearly all goods at zero tariff, the market has not been flooded with overly cheap goods that are threats to local industries.

“If (your business is) still alive today, you will still be alive in 2015.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 03, 2014.

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