As businesses in China have begun reopening their doors that signals a road to recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, growers of Cavendish bananas in Mindanao dare to hope again.
For two years now, China is the country’s main export market of fresh Cavendish bananas and the lockdowns imposed by the government to contain the spread of the virus have affected the consumption of the fruit. In early February, banana exporters began feeling the pinch through the cancellation of orders, said Stephen Antig, executive director of Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA).
According to PBGEA, shipment volumes have slumped and prices dropped from an average of $8 per box to $1.80. The slump has caused panic especially among small growers who usually do not have long-term supply contracts with Chinese traders but rely on spot buyers.
“Today, the prospects have slowly improved owing to the normalization of the situation in more ports, reopening of supermarkets and retail shops, as well as resumption of banking services,” PBGEA said in a statement. “The disruption of banana exports to China due to the COVID-19 outbreak came out to be short-lived."
Citing the views of several Chinese importers, PBGEA said the epidemic turned out to be a boon for the banana industry as “people consume more healthy foods to strengthen their immune system amid the coronavirus infection scare.”
Newsinfo.inquirer.net reports how, since 2018, the Philippines exports some 60 to 65 million boxes of bananas to China every year. In 2019, it exported to China 1.4 million metric tons of bananas worth about $600 million.