Philippines expands natural and organic agri exports to Europe

Eight Philippine companies generated around P160 million in booked and negotiated sales as the Philippines, through the Department of Agriculture (DA), participated in the Natural and Organic Products Europe (NOPE 2017) in early April this year. The trade promotion and market linkage mission forms part of DA’s bid to expand the country’s share in the European market for organic and other high-value agricultural products.

The eight participating companies generated a total of US$3.21 million (roughly P160 million) in booked and negotiated sales during the exhibition held at Excel London in London, United Kingdom on April 2 to 3, 2017.

Of this amount, coconut products accounted for 97% of the total sales, at US$3.12 million. These included virgin coconut oil; coconut milk; coconut syrup; coconut jam; coconut sugar; and coco vinegar. Sales of non-coconut products amounted to US$96,035.11 (roughly P4.8 million). Other products were guyabano tea; calamansi soap; malunggay tea; food supplements and
vitamins; and ointments.

“Promotional events such as NOPE had always provided Filipino agribusiness firms with an opportunity to introduce and innovate on their existing products to capture the market, and to build linkages with their prospective buyers,” said Ms. Bernadette Romulo Puyat, DA’s Undersecretary for Administration, Agribusiness and Marketing, and Regional Engagement.

Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol earlier announced he will lead the charge as Philippine agriculture’s “top salesman” to help strengthen the marketing component of the food supply chain that has been its “weakest link.”

NOPE is considered one of Europe’s biggest trade shows for natural products, health food and organic industries. This year’s edition attracted around 700 exhibitors and 10,571 attendees from 92 countries, according to event organizer Diversified Communications UK.

The eight Filipino agribusiness companies included: Lao Integrated Farms Inc. and Healthy Sweets Mindanao Corp. from Davao Region; Tropicana Food Products Inc. and Cocoplus Aquarian Development Corp. from CALABARZON; Joyful Garden Farm/ Organic Farmers Association Inc. and Akita Herbal Products from Central Luzon; and Manila-based companies Giga Natural Products Corp. and Business People Inc.

Among the Philippine products promoted during the exhibition were coconut-based sugar, flour, desiccated, amino sauce, syrup, sap vinegar, chips, balls, milk powder, spread, VCO, water, fruit-based candies (ginger, guyabano, Moringa, durian, yam or ube, chocolate), peanut butter, turmeric ice cream, tea, Muscovado sugar, fancy and organic rice (brown, red, pink and white), and personal and wellness products such as herbal supplement, ointment, oil, facial cream, soap, and butter.

There was no actual selling during the two-day event as only promotional and business encounters were allowed. For its part, DA helped organized meetings between exhibitors and their possible distributors. Tours of several supermarkets and distribution chains around London were also conducted on the sidelines of NOPE to check on the latest trends and requirements of the British market.

UK alone is a thriving market for organic products. In 2016, UK’s organic market reached a little over £2 billion, an increase of 7.1% in total sales of organic products from the previous year, based on Soil Association’s latest Organic Market Report.

Aside from organic products, premium agricultural and marine produce such as coconut, banana, mango, and tuna, as well as processed ones such as condiments and snacks, are also goods that Filipino exporters and manufactures can supply, according to Brussels-based Philippine Agricultural Attaché to Europe, Jose Laquian Jr.

“The Filipino community has always been the primary market for such mainstream products, but we are working to capture other non-Filipino segments as well,” said Laquian. There are an estimated 300,000 Filipinos living and working in the entire UK, which has a total population of 65 million according to 2016 World Bank data.

Philippine participation in NOPE 2017 was spearheaded by the DA, in coordination with the Philippine Embassy-London, DTI-PTIC London. The DA delegation was composed of representatives from the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service; Office of Undersecretary for Administration, Agribusiness and Marketing and Regional Engagement; Regional Field Offices in Central Luzon, Eastern Visayas and Davao Region; and the Philippine Agricultural Attaché Office to Europe.

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