Market study reveals ‘great’ export potential for PHL agricultural products on the European market | Elaine Cotoner


Market research has shown that coconut, calamansi, carrageenan and moringa have great potential in European markets.

Other Filipino agricultural products cited were ube, turmeric, butterfly pea flower, and elemi. Demand is driven by healthy lifestyle choices and the use of natural ingredients in the manufacture of cosmetics and medicines.

“We invite all Filipino producers of the mentioned natural ingredients to take the plunge and start exporting. If you have concerns, the Ministry of Trade and Industry – Export Marketing Bureau [DTI-EMB] will help you prepare for export and connect with foreign buyers, ”said Under Secretary of Commerce Abdulgani M. Macatoman.

The study, entitled “Market Intelligence EFTA [European Free Trade Agreement] for the Philippines ”was carried out in 2020 by the Swiss Import Promotion Program (SIPPO), in partnership with DTI-EMB and the Swiss Embassy in the Philippines. The results of the study were first presented in Usapang Exports of DTI-EMB on December 2.

The three-part study examined the viability of Filipino textiles, natural ingredients and processed foods in the European market, in particular to EFTA countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The Philippines and EFTA have signed a free trade agreement which has been in full force since January 1, 2020.


According to the study, demand for virgin coconut oil (VCO) in Europe has increased in recent years due to healthy diets, a vegan lifestyle and awareness of the damage that the palm oil production made to the environment. The Philippines is the world’s largest producer of OCVs and the second largest producer of coconut products after Indonesia.

Desiccated coconut also has a large European market since it is used as a cooking ingredient. The European Union is the world’s largest importer of desiccated coconut, accounting for over 30 percent of global imports. The main importing countries are the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom and Belgium.

The Philippines exports VCO to 50 countries. As of November 2020, annual VCO exports amounted to $ 74 million. Switzerland is the only EFTA country included in the list that imported $ 14,000 worth of COVs during the period.

For desiccated coconut, the country exported $ 234 million to 81 countries. Only 0.3 percent went to EFTA countries Norway, Switzerland and Iceland.


Calamansi is new to the European market but has the potential to be in the mainstream market. The fruit is used as an acidifying ingredient and touted as an immune booster. Calamansi juice is also considered an exciting discovery as a flavoring for food and drink.

Calamansi is an emerging export commodity, with Philippine exports only amounting to $ 60,000 from January to November 2020. Exports have been recorded for 10 countries, with no exports to EFTA at this time.


Carrageenan has a high demand in European markets due to its wide range of applications. It is used as a gelling agent in dairy products and thickeners for drinks, sauces and syrups. The Philippines is the largest producer of carrageenan, accounting for around 77 percent of the world’s supply.

World exports of carrageenan amounted to $ 147 million from January to November 2020, with EFTA exports accounting for 0.85%.


The study points out that moringa has a high financial potential if the quality is suitable for export. The leaves (dried or powdered) and oil of the plant are approved for food applications in Europe.

For food supplements, organic certification is often required. Potential markets for moringa are Germany, UK, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain.

Company website now essential

The Covid-19 pandemic has made print brochures and crucial business websites obsolete. The study recommended having a corporate website with detailed product information, including high-resolution product literature, specifications, and photos.

In a previous press release, Swiss Ambassador Alain Gaschen said he was “convinced that the Philippines can find the means, the talent and the energy to position the country on the international stage as a supplier of innovative articles, attractive and sustainable, especially in the market for certified and environmentally friendly products.

For export assistance, email the DTI-Export Marketing Bureau at The office is the main export promotion body of DTI. DTI-EMB offers, among other things, product advice, market information, business matchmaking sessions.

Find the full study here:

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