THE Philippines should keep up to the preferences and current trends in the export market in order to remain competitive in banana export, said a Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) official.
During the second day of the Banana Congress held at the SMX Convention Center, SM Lanang Premier on October 13, DTI–Foreign Trade Service Officer Jose Ma. Dinsay said the current trends and demands in the export market include freshness and healthiness of the products, speed and convenience, and transparency and sustainability.
He mentioned that the top banana producers of South America like Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Columbia are now eyeing expansion to Asia.
He said in his four years in the United States and another four years in the Middle East, he observed how the services of different grocery stores and their products had changed and improved together with what the consumers are looking for.
“To answer to the need for convenience, a product was developed and it’s a nature-based freshness enabler for bananas that is making fresh banana snacks a reality. By dipping the banana slices into the solution, the natural characteristics are retained without influencing the taste and the product doesn’t contain sulfites, allergen, or GMO. Maybe sooner or later, our banana products will be shipped to other countries using this technology. There’s already a technology that would answer the need for convenience,” Dinsay said.
He also added that one of the current trends related to consumer health is the promotion of organic agricultural crops and their by-products. Dinsay said the top competitors of the Philippines in terms of banana export are already venturing into growing organic bananas and he urged Filipino banana growers to keep up as well.
In Japan, they have married this need for healthy food and technology by launching "Talkable Vegetable" wherein small devices that looked like their represented vegetable can be conversed with and they tell people in the supermarket their health benefits or anything about this specific vegetable.
In the Philippines, said Dinsay, as bananas are the country’s top export commodity, a few by-products of banana had also been launched including packaged saba, banana chips, and frozen turon (which are ready to be fried), provide convenience and speed to the consumers. He said this is one of the starting ways that Filipino banana players can cope up with the ever-changing demands and trends of the market.
However, as compared to the other banana catsups in other parts of the world, the Philippines’ is the only banana catsup that is color red. The others use yellow banana catsups. He said this is fine for local consumption since Filipinos are used to it. But in order to export Philippine banana catsup while keeping up with the global demand, he said.