PHL loses No. 2 spot for banana exporters

GUATEMALA dislodged the Philippines as the world’s second-largest exporter of bananas last year, ending the Asian country’s four-year reign as it struggled to keep its share in key markets amid stiffer competition from Latin American producers.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that Guatemala exported a total of 2.467 million metric tons (MMT) of bananas last year, surpassing the Philippines’s 2.235 MMT.

The FAO explained that banana production in the Philippines continued to fall as growers struggled to address and curb the “devastating” spread of Banana Fusarium Wilt Tropical Race 4 (TR4) disease.

Furthermore, FAO pointed out that Filipino banana growers suffered a double whammy since they also reeled from “high costs of inputs and fertilizers” last year.

“Both developments are reportedly having a particularly detrimental effect on small-scale banana producers in the Philippines, who are struggling to procure the necessary agricultural inputs to meet the quality requirements of export markets,” the international agency said in its preliminary global banana market review report published recently.

“Based on available data and information, banana shipments from the Philippines are estimated to fall by some 6 percent over the full year, to [2.235] million tonnes,” it added. The Philippines exported 2.383 MMT of bananas in 2021, according to the FAO.

The total estimated banana shipments by the Philippines in 2022 was the lowest in six years or since 2017 when it exported 2.725 MMT, based on FAO data.

The Philippines reclaimed its spot as the second-largest exporter of bananas in 2018 after shipping a total of 3.125 MMT, according to the FAO.

The FAO reported that the Philippines has lost substantial market share in its key destinations such as China. The FAO pointed out that from a market share of as much as 75 percent, the Philippines now accounts for just 38 percent of the total bananas imported by China.

“Imports of Filipino bananas, meanwhile, dropped by a reported 8 percent over this period due to the continuing production difficulties experienced in the Philippines,” it said.

Aside from being overtaken by Guatemala, the Philippines might further slip in the global rankings because of the growing exports of other Central American banana producers, the FAO report also showed.

Last year, the FAO estimated that Colombia, the fourth-largest exporter, shipped an estimated total of 2.125 MMT of bananas, just  100,000 MT lower than the Philippines’s.

Colombia’s total banana exports have consistently risen in the past five years as it enjoyed low tariffs imposed by its partner countries.

Costa Rica, estimated to have ranked fifth last year, exported 2.122 MMT of bananas, just some 113,000 MT away from matching the Philippines’s total shipments.

The Philippines is also now facing strong competition from neighboring Asian countries such as VietNam and Cambodia, which have been aggressive in expanding their banana production. (Related story:

The Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association earlier told the BusinessMirror that the Philippines is not just losing market share in key banana markets to Latin American and Asian producers, but investments as well.  (Related story:

FAO explained that its full-year estimates of the global banana market last year were based on the responses of the country to its questionnaire as well as latest data available until the end of October last year.

Image credits: Ceazar Perante