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16 September 2019

Published also in Business Mirror

Sales for naturally healthy (NH) packaged food are forecast to rise in Canada as more of its consumers become increasingly health conscious.

“Among the manifestations of health consciousness seen by Canadian consumers is the increasing desire for less processed food and for products with as few and simple ingredients as possible. This is also known as the ‘clean label’ movement,” said the Euromonitor Digest released by the Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau.

In food and beverage, the report pointed out there is a rising tendency to resort to the way food was consumed centuries ago when there were “no artificial ingredients, no pollution and no antibiotics” despite the advancement of modern agriculture and technologies.

This drives the same sentiment behind the popularity of claims, such as “natural” and “all-natural” and “superfood,” it said.

The Euromonitor Digest cited examples of NH packaged food products, such as NH sour milk, NH honey, NH olive oil, and NH nuts, seeds and trail mixes.

NH high-fiber food, including NH high-fiber breakfast cereals, NH high-fiber noodles, and NH high-fiber pasta, are performing well, supported by consumer awareness of the importance of dietary fiber intake and active new product development, it said.

The report further said leading players are increasingly engaging in marketing campaigns in order to educate consumers on the benefits of consuming naturally healthy packaged food.

“Their activities are increasingly being focused on social media in order to specifically target younger generations. Another area of focus is packaging design, in order to highlight the naturally healthy ingredients of their products and differentiate them from regular alternatives,” it added.

16 September 2019

Published also in Business Mirror

The food-processing industry is concerned about the unstable supply of local agricultural products despite Philippine government’s various programs and initiatives to help farmers, according to a purchasing executive.

Ferdinand Pio, corporate purchasing manager at KLT Fruits Inc., in an update on trends and market opportunities in the fruit industry presented at a recent agri-business forum in Calamba, Laguna, said statistics show a decreasing supply of local agri produce.

The decline can be attributed to the fall in the number of growers and is a troubling development for the country’s food-processing industry as it depends on the farming sector, Pio added.

Citing the situation of KLT Fruits, a fruit-processing company that processes tropical fruit purees, Pio said the unstable and unreliable supply in the Philippines affects their operations and challenges their capability to meet their commitments to their overseas customers.

He said the company is losing farmers who can supply their product requirements because these growers are getting old and retiring, and their children do not want to go into farming, which, by itself, presents a different set of challenges.

Moreover, the company is encountering strong competition from Vietnam, from where it also imports because “ang lakas mag-supply ng prutas ng Vietnam ngayon [Vietnam now has a strong supply of fruits] and wala nang makuhang supply dito [we can no longer source the needed supply here].”

Pio said KLT Fruits currently needs bulk suppliers of saba (plantain), mango, jackfruit, guava, calamansi, passion fruit and many more. To address the local shortage, Pio suggests that farmers learn to market their products.

“You don’t just plant without someone to buy your product,” he said. More important, he encourages them to form cooperatives and associations.

“Don’t farm alone,” he advises farmers, adding that if farmers form themselves into groups “magiging mas malakas kayo [you will become stronger].”

He explained: “’Pag mag-isa kang farmer at hindi ka rin marunong mag-market ng produkto mo, maghihintay ka na lang ng trader. Talagang hindi ka magsu-survive. [If you are a solo farmer and you don’t know how to market your products, you will just be waiting for the trader. You won’t survive].”

He added that consolidation will provide farmers with advantages. For instance, it will be easier for food processors to transact with them. Pio said food-processing firms sometime find it hard to deal with farmers individually.

This, he said, is partly due to the farmer’s financial limitations. “Hindi niya kayang gastusan ang pag-deliver from the farm going to the plant at hindi maramihan (Some farmers do not have the financial capacity to deliver from the farm to the plant nor the capacity to provide in bulk).” If the farmers have a cooperative, “kakausapin naming yung namumuno sa kooperatiba o asosasyon at sila ang mag-de-deliver sa amin at dun kami sa kanya magbabayad (we can talk to the leaders of the cooperative or association and they will deliver to us and we will pay them).”

He also said setting up a buying station where farmers and buyers can meet and negotiate is also a good idea.

09 September 2019

Published also in Business Mirror

Department of Trade and Industry-Trade Promotions Group (TPG) Undersecretary Abdulgani M. Macatoman welcomes the participants of the Exporters’ Briefing Session on the European Union Registered Exporters (EU REX) System on August 20, 2019, in Makati City.

The Philippines is one of the beneficiary countries of the European Union’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus or GSP+ that grants zero tariffs to 6,274 product lines.  These products include particular items of fish, dairy, fruits, vegetables, coconut oils, coffee, cocoa, tobacco, chemicals, fertilizers, essential oils, soaps, articles of plastics and rubber, articles of wood and leather, apparels, footwear and headgears, ceramic products, glass and glassware, pearls, fine and costume jewelry, furniture, auto and aero parts, ships and boats, electronics and semiconductors, watches and other manufactured articles.

Philippine exporters who wish to avail themselves of EU GSP+ zero tariff benefits must preregister now with the EU Registered Exporters (REX) System until December 31, 2019.

Exporters may now fill up the application form available online at https://customs.ec.europa.eu/rex-pa-ui/and the printed copy submitted to Gina German of the Export Coordinating Division of the Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) with e-mail address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and telephone number 527-4580.  Exporters in the regions can also contact BOC regional officers for assistance.

If the application is approved, the BOC will register and assign a REX number to the exporter with the registration and validity date.  Once registered, the exporter will now be able to issue their own statement on origin on their commercial documents. The registration is a one-time operation that will replace the old system of issuance of Certificate of Origin Form A.  The EU REX System is expected to make exporting to the EU faster and easier.

In an effort to inform Philippine exporters of the EU REX System, EMB held an information session on August 20, 2019,  at the Rosemary Ballroom of the City Garden Grand Hotel in Makati City with Christophe Fontaine of EU’s directorate general taxud as the main resource speaker.  He was joined by  Anne-Marie Michels and  Francois Becquart, also from the EU customs office, and Maria Teresa Borja of the Philippine Trade and Investment Office in Brussels, Belgium, as resource persons on EU’s rules of origin.

Undersecretary Abdulgani M. Macatoman of the Trade Promotions Group of the Department of Trade and Industry delivered the welcome remarks.  He encouraged Philippine exporters to learn the rudiments of the EU REX System and continue to take advantage of the EU GSP+ trade preference.

In 2018, EU was the Philippines’s fifth trading partner, export market and import source.  Total bilateral trade was valued at $17.49 billion, with exports at $ 8.91 billion and imports at $8.59 billion. Total PH-EU trade from 2014 to 2018, grew at an average 5.10 percent; exports by 7.32 percent  and imports by 3.02 percent.

The top Philippine exports to the EU on the industrial side were semiconductor and electronic products, vessels for transport and aero parts.  On the other hand, top Philippine food exports to the EU were tunas, desiccated coconuts, prepared pineapples and pineapple juice, biscuits and pastries and sardines.

For more information, contact Ms. Maria Jaena Go-Aco of the Export Marketing Bureau (EMB) at e-mail address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and telephone number 4653300  local 228.

09 September 2019

Published also in Business Mirror

Posterity photo of the delegations of the Philippines headed by Trade Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo (gray suit at the center) and Indonesia headed by Ministry of Trade Director General Iman Pambagyo (batik polo at the center) after the successful conduct of the Seventh Meeting of Philippines-Indonesia Joint Working Group (JWG) of Senior Officials for the implementation of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) on trade, investments, handicrafts and shipping held on August 26 and 27, 2019, in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Jakarta—In a bid to further strengthen bilateral economic relations between the Philippine and Indonesia, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is set to explore possible cooperation on the halal industry with Jakarta.

During the Seventh Meeting of Philippines-Indonesia Joint Working Group (JWG) of Senior Officials for the  implementation of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) on trade, investments, handicrafts and shipping of the two economies, held on August 25 and 26, 2019, the Philippines’s DTI signified its interest to enter a Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) on halal certification and accreditation.

Export Marketing Bureau Director Senen M. Perlada, who represented the Trade Promotions Group of DTI in the JWG meeting, believes that the trade imbalance between the two markets may be mitigated to a large extent by exploring possible cooperation in halal.

Philippine imports from Indonesia are mainly vehicles and motor parts, some chemicals and various animal or vegetable oils. While most of Philippines’s exports to Indonesia are electronics and tobacco and barely on food. The Philippines is hopeful to strengthen the food sector as one strategy to address this concern.

“With the new halal law in the Philippines, we are in a better position to explore cooperation in halal with Indonesia and we are optimistic that we will be able to cater to the need of the market as the Philippines’s halal industry is set to make the country a respectable player in the global halal ecosystem,” Perlada added.

Promulgated in 2016, RA 10817, otherwise known as the Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Act of 2016, provides a comprehensive set of objectives, targets, strategies and activities for the growth of  halal industries producing or providing products, processes and services and resulting to increased exports of  halal products.

To realize the objectives of the law, the DTI, National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, Departments of Agriculture, Health, Science and Technology, Foreign Affairs, Tourism, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and the Mindanao Development Authority, collectively known as the Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Board, are working very closely in the development and promotions of the Philippine halal exports.

With this law, the Philippines intends to play a significant role in the global halal ecosystem by expanding its coverage to include not only the food sector but also halal services, such as tourism, logistics and Islamic finance and increase market access starting from the neighbor Muslim-majority economies.

Meanwhile, Indonesia is known to have been conservative in terms of accepting foreign halal-certified products. The Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI) has since been the sole agency responsible for halal in the country and recognizes only one Philippine Halal Certification Body (HCB) with limited in scope to cover only for raw materials. This implies that only few portions of Philippine halal-certified products are allowed to enter Indonesia.

“Being able to hurdle this requirement on halal would be a great deal for the Philippines in furthering our economic ties with Indonesia,” said Jeremiah Reyes, Philippine  commercial  attaché in Indonesia.

With the new halal law of Indonesia, MUI will not be the only agency which will handle halal certification which may entail more challenges for the Philippine products. Under this new policy, all products exported, distributed and traded in Indonesia must be halal-certified. These include goods and/or services relating to food and beverages, medicines, cosmetics, chemical products, biological products, genetically engineered products, and any other products which are applied, used or utilized by Muslims.

This law will be implemented gradually starting October 17, 2019, and will be handled by the Halal Product Guarantee Agency (or Badan Penyelenggara Jaminan Produk Halal or BPJPH) under the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Any halal certificates which have been issued by MUI before this law takes effect are declared to be still effective until their period of validity expires. By October 17, 2019, the application for new halal certificate or the renewal of halal certificate will be handled by BPJPH.

The Indonesian government informed the Philippines that there are two ways to undertake the MRA. One way is through government-to-government mechanisms whereby the relevant agencies from respective countries will enter into an arrangement on such cooperation. The other way is for the private sector, in this case the local Philippine HCBs, to seek recognition directly with Indonesia. DTI prefers the former for a more comprehensive approach, while the latter is more tedious and expensive on the part of the HCBs.

With Indonesia’s openness to welcome MRA with the Philippines, it is hoped that by the end of this year, an initial draft of MRA would concretize such cooperation. A small technical group between the two countries is expected to meet in December this year to further discuss action points agreed in the seventh JWG.

Halal is an Arabic term which refers to all and any permitted, allowed or legal ways or lifestyles among Muslims.

Image Credits: PTIC-Jakarta

13 August 2019

Published also in Business Mirror

Filipino companies, especially those engaged in the food business, are encouraged to use smart packaging technologies to ensure product safety and quality which are key drivers of competitiveness.

“For exporters, it will ensure the quality and safety of their products. It can directly communicate with the consumers because it has indicator. You can immediately see if your product is fresh or not,” said Daisy Tañafranca, chief of the Packaging Technology Division of the Department of Science and Technology-Industrial Technology Development Institute (DOST-ITDI).

Tañafranca pointed out packaging technology becomes more sophisticated, especially for products geared for the export markets. Smart packaging technology includes the use of active packaging, intelligent packaging, and radio frequency identification (RFID). She cited as an example the utilization of active packaging which delays the ripening of banana and mango, preserves the freshness of heirloom rice, and extend the shelf life of bread.

Tañafranca said intelligent packaging monitors the condition of packaged foods, and provides information on the quality of the packaged goods during transport and storage.

It is used mainly in logistics and supply chain management, as well as food and defense safety, she added. Tañafranca further said the RFID technology, on the other hand, is a tagging and tracking system for food and other goods. She noted many developed countries are already using smart packaging technologies.

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