Banana exports to China are expected to increase by at least 5% to 475,650 metric tons in 2012 from 453,000 in 2011, despite the trade fiasco that affected the entry of shipments in the middle of the year.

“Shipments to China have already reached 400,000 MT as of end-September. We are expecting that this will further increase given that we still have one full quarter to fill,” Bureau of Plant Industry director Clarito Barron said in an interview Tuesday.

Barron said China would import a lot of food such as vegetables and fruits, as it prepared for the winter season.

The country’s biggest banana group, the Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association, said sales peaked beginning August.

“There are more shipments now and demand is rising. Although we still experience the same problems in inspection from time to time,” association president Steve Antig said. He said the method of inspection improved, but remained “a tad slower than what it was before inspection problems set in.”

Antig said the inspection process returned to random selection from the mandatory checking of 32 to 40 boxes of Cavendish bananas, after pests were found in several shipments in April 2012.

The Agriculture Department successfully negotiated to lift the mandatory inspection after explaining in writing that the pests found in the shipments were not scale insects but mealy bugs.

China is the second-largest market for fresh Cavendish bananas after Japan.

Meanwhile, local banana exporters said they would export to mainland US about 3,000 metric tons of Philippine highland Cavendish bananas in December.

Source: Manila Standard Today Nov 2012

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