Rome, July 9, 2012 –  Filipino and Italian delegates representing the banana industry, drawn both from private enterprises and from Government Agencies, met recently at the CAR- Centro Agoralimentari Rome office situated in Guidonia-Montecelio.  The meeting was assisted by staff of the Philippines Embassy to Rome headed by Ambassador Virgilio Reyes, and of the Office of the Commercial Attaché and Agricultural Attaché.

There was a useful exchange of views and information about the importation of tropical fruits to Italy, using banana as the base product to compare with other commodities. Since the Philippines produced some 2,730,000 metric tons of bananas in 2011, and banana already ranked third in the Italian consumption of table fruit, led only by apples and oranges, it became evident that there was a good market opportunity to encourage the Italian consumer to share the taste of Philippines bananas with their distinctive taste and quality. Yet in 2011, the Philippines provided less than 0.01% of Italian banana imports; just 41 tons out of  662,000; in contrast, Ecuador supplied 280,000 tons. 

The opportunity was clear and it was decided to form a nine-strong Philippine Outbound Business Mission, comprising five business representatives and four from government, with Embassy support.  

During the discussions the Italian counterparts headed by their representative Fabrizio Venturini and with the presence of fruits wholesalers had the chance to conduct a preliminary evaluation of the Philippines companies, especially in relation to bananas, and of the backing offered by the Government Agencies such as the DA and DTI.  

On the CAR site, where the actual wholesale selling takes place, the delegates got the chance to learn and discover how the system works in the Italian fresh banana market sector and with other fruits.  

This trade agreement is timely as we celebrate the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Italy, and has the potential to be a gateway to an even better bilateral business relationship between the two countries. The hope must be that in the near future the Philippines will be known not for “only” importing labour workers but also as an importer of good quality tropical fruits, initially via bananas, thereby giving our country a stronger share of Italian imports.  

As Antonio Venturini said, this is an interesting event to open the door to the Italian market for bananas and even other fruits from the Philippines, with a view to expanding the overall Italian fruit market. He also mentioned that they are willing to sell the CAR pattern and if this system were to be adopted in the Philippines, it could in future facilitate such matters as sharing of know-how on logistics, price transparency, fresh organization in the box, transportation and others.  (By: Lilian Bollen)

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