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New VHT Plants Open Export Markets for Mindanao Mangoes
Friday, 13 June 2008 03:06

DAVAO CITY—New vapor heat treatment (VHT) plants in southern Mindanao are enabling local mango suppliers to improve the post-harvest quality of their fruit and thus to meet the strict quarantine standards of key export markets. Southern Philippines Fresh Fruits Corporation (SPFFC) began operating its new VHT plant here late last year. The P52-million facility is capable of processing 12 metric tons (MT) of mango per VHT run, with each run lasting about 18 hours.

SPFFC exported 21 metric tons of VHT-treated fresh mangoes to Japan in a trial shipment in December, said Christine Legaspi, vice president of SPFFC. “Japan has very stringent standards, both in terms of hygiene and fruit quality, so we were happy when the whole shipment made it through quarantine,” Legaspi said, adding that SPFFC was assisted by USAID’s Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) Program in establishing links with growers of high-quality mango.

Japan is the biggest market for Mindanao mangoes. In 2007 the island-region shipped 1,092 MT of high-grade fresh mango valued at $2,750,328, directly to Japan, according to the National Statistics Office (NSO). In the period 2006-2007, the total volume of fresh mango exports from Mindanao rose 46.8% (from 1,357 MT to 1,992 MT), while the value of fresh mango exports doubled (from $1,795,653 to US$3,592,770), said the NSO. The number of importing countries increased from 11 to 14.

Other major buyers of Mindanao mango in 2007 included South Korea (484 MT; US$ 484,408); United States (28 MT; $ 154,810); Hongkong (185 MT; $ 88,850); Iran (17 MT; $43,950); Malaysia  (4 MT; $ 23,149); and China (128 MT; $21,439). Some countries, like China, accept mango imports that have undergone the more commonly employed hot water treatment. However, VHT is a requirement for all mangoes exported to Japan, South Korea and the U.S.

Until recently, only 20 percent of Mindanao mangoes produced for export met Japan’s standards, but the recent entry of SPFFC and other processors is now helping raise export volumes. Diamond Star, one of the country’s biggest fresh mango exporters, has also constructed a VHT plant in Mindanao, located, in Carmen, Davao del Norte.

Mindanao is typhoon-free, which gives the region a major advantage, said Antonio, the, president of the Southern Mindanao Mango Council. “Mindanao growers can produce mangoes from July to December, the period when production in Luzon and the Visayas drops due to the prevalence of typhoons,” said Teh.

The Mindanao Fruit Industry Council (Minfruit), in partnership with the GEM Program, has assisted farmers in developing off-season mango production and has worked with industry proponents to strengthen the production supply chain. Growing mangoes during the rainy off-season may be more costly, but this can be offset by meeting the high import standards of markets like Japan, which pays as much as P85 per kilo.

“With the new VHT facilities and the entry of other processing plants, Mindanao mangoes have a better chance of finding their way onto the shelves of lucrative foreign markets. These are exciting times for the mango industry,” Teh said. (GEM)


Published in Manila Times, June 12, 2008; Business Mirror, June 13, 2008; Mindanao Times, June 12, 2008; Sun Star Cagayan de Oro, June 12, 2008; Sun Star Davao, June 13, 2008 and www.mindanao.com