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Last Updated:[08-09-2009 08:44:19 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Japanese Morning Banana Diet Lifts Filipino Exports

tradenews A sudden rise in banana consumption in Japan owing to the Morning Banana Diet (MBD) designed by Hitoshi Watanabe and wife Sumiko to lose weight in last September has significantly helped the Philippine banana exports to register record growth this year. Banana eating came into vogue in Japan after several people began posting the success of the MBD in social media networks and video sharing sites.

The latest reports say that the trend is spreading across South Korea as well, which is likely to sustain the Filipino banana trade. At some point, many supermarkets in Japan were forced to display ‘No Stock’ boards due to unexpected sales.

The Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also responded to the needs of the farmers by revoking the government policy of limiting acreage of banana plantation in the country. A new scheme under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) now allows the small growers to sell bananas directly to the Japanese market.

According to Filipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA), banana exports are likely to grow by 15 percent to $828mn this year provided the market acceptance overseas is sustained. In 2008, the Philippines exported around 1.9mn metric tons or about 148mn boxes of fresh bananas to generate revenue of $720mn.

Currently, more than 90 percent of Japan's banana imports come from the Philippines. Besides higher demand from Japan, the latest farming techniques combined with modern shipping methods have also worked in favour of the Filipino banana exports to grow exponentially in recent times. Lately, the rise in the profits of the banana importers including Sumitomo Corp. and Dole Japan Ltd. is reflected from the wholesale price of bananas which stands at $1.6 per kg against $2.3 of apples per kg.

The Philippines is the second largest banana producer and exporter after Ecuador. The Filipino banana producers are hoping for a greater growth as they are gaining access to the larger US and Australian markets. However, stiff competition from India could be expected in the coming years as the markets for the Philippine bananas have started entertaining the Indian ones too.

By Jose Roy

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