Philippine bananas eyeing Australia

Asian nation hopes to gain access soon and diversify exports as global competition with South America tightens.

Once the primary concern of black sigatoka disease is addressed, Manila is hopeful it will gain access to Australia for Philippine bananas.

In a bid to diversify its export portfolio amid growing pressure from South American banana suppliers, the country is exploring new markets for its major export commodity.

Later this month, the Bureau of the Plant Industry and the Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association (BPGEA) will submit technical documents to Canberra covering comprehensive Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures.

Stephen Antig, president of the BPGEA said Australia is likely to be a small market, considering it has banana plantations and its own banana export programmes. However, he noted that Philippine bananas can maintain a competitive advantage in price point as they are cheaper than locally-grown Australian bananas.

Business Mirror reported that in late November, the Philippines and Australia held a round of agricultural talks in Canberra focusing on SPS concerns. In that meeting, a six-month timeframe was set for Australia to evaluate documents and decide on if it would pass Manila’s SPS and quarantine standards.

Agriculture undersecretary Ariel Cayanan said the Philippines is optimistic it would overcome SPS concerns set by Australia.

He said the industry has a very early response to sigatoka, destroying a plant upon detection at its roots, before the disease can spread further. “If we see something wrong with the roots, we address it immediately and the plant will not grow anymore.”

According to a report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, in 2018 the Philippines regained its place as the second-largest global supplier of bananas, with Ecuador in the lead.

Source: Author: Camellia Aebischer

Philippine government to support banana exports to Australia

The Department of Agriculture has promised to help facilitate the entry of Philippine bananas onto the Australian market, which has been closed to Filipino exporters for more than two decades. Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said he would be willing to broker a meeting between Filipino banana exporters belonging to the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association and Australian officials. quoted him as saying: “The possible reopening of the Australian market is a welcome development for us and for me. I find it unfair that the Philippines buy beef and other meat products from Australia, when our local products could not enter their market.”

The Filipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association has certainly showed its interest to export bananas to Australia after that nation’s ambassador to the Philippines, Amanda Gorely, said Canberra is willing to cooperate. During a BusinessMirror Coffee Club forum last month, Gorely said her government is willing to assist exporters comply with the Australian animal health and plant regulations so they can again access the Australian market. However, she added that no Philippine exporter has approached Canberra, signifying an interest to ship bananas to Australia.

Gorely claims that Filipino exporters prioritize Asian markets such as Japan and South Korea, where they have a bigger share compared to Australia where banana production is sufficient to meet domestic demand.

In 2002, Manila filed a complaint against Australia at the World Trade Organization for its de facto ban on Philippine bananas. Manila argued that Philippine bananas were no threat to Australian bananas because they were not intended to fulfil Australia’s entire demand. To date, the dispute has yet to be resolved.

Publication date: 2/27/2018


Nutrano restructures farm management

Australian group divides operations to accommodate predicted growth over next 12 months

Leading Australian fresh produce company Nutrano has split the management of its farming operations geographically between north and south.

Existing executive general manager – farming, Richard Byllaardt, will manage farming and pack-shed operations in the southern region, which includes farms in the Sunraysia district.

Current non-executive director, Malcolm Frick, has been appointed executive general manager – farming (northern), to manage operations in the Bundaberg region in Queensland, and Katherine in the Northern Territory.

Nutrano Produce Group managing director and CEO, Steven Chaur, said the restructure was an important step in the management of its expanding farming operations.

“As Nutrano becomes a world-class integrated fresh produce supply chain business it is important that we remain well-resourced to manage the growth and investment opportunities of our national farm fleet,” Chaur explained.

The move comes in response to the company’s recent growth and the likelihood of further acquisitions in 2018.

“Over the coming year, Nutrano anticipates completing additional farm acquisitions in core categories and making further capital investments in our farm operations in Sunraysia, Queensland and the Northern Territory,” Chaur added.

“During 2018, Nutrano will also increase its emphasis on Soft Produce farming and marketing through the Barbera Farms relationship in Bundaberg, Queensland.”

Source: Author: Matthew Jones

Horticulture production rises remain on track, according to quarterly figures

Figures released for the December quarter have confirmed that the gross value of horticultural production remains on track to pass $10billion dollars in 2018.

The Agricultural commodities report released by ABARES has estimated production across the major fruit and vegetable categories will continue its upward trend in terms of value increasing from $9.99billion to nearly $10.3billion in the 2017-18 financial year. Both vegetables and fruit and nuts are on track to be worth $4.1billion each, while table and dried grapes are set to increase from $364million to $374million.

This comes on the back of an increase in production which is forecast across the major categories. Potatoes are expected to rise from 1,295 kilotonnes (kt) to 1,385 kt, and onions are set to rise by 22 kt this financial year, and tomatoes 11 kt. In terms of fruit, bananas will rise by 28 kt according to the ABARES data, and oranges will be up from 395 to 418 kt. However, some produce lines are tipped to reduce slightly, including apples which will fall by just 2 kt, while carrot production will decrease by 4 kt.

Horticulture exports are tipped for another major rise in value, jumping from $2.5billion to $3.1billion. According to ABARES fruit exports should increase in value from $1billion in 2016-17 to more than $1.3billion in 2017-18, while tree nut exports look set for a rise of $310million. Vegetable exports will also rise, but by a much smaller margin of just $10million.

The increase in exports will continue to be led by the Chinese market, with the value continuing to increase from $260million to $341million in the next financial year. Fruit exports into the country are expected to again rise dramatically from $187million to $258million. Tree nuts and vegetables will also have slight increases in value.

The value of exports into Indonesia looks set to fall in this financial year by just over $13million. It is a similar story for the United States, with a significant drop in the value of tree nuts from $82.1million to $43.3million leading to an overall decrease of Australian horticultural produce into the country. However strong exports across all three categories (fruit, nuts and vegetables) means the value of exports to is Japan expected to rise from $178million $212million.

The full report can be viewed here

Publication date: 12/12/2017
Author: Matthew Russell



Bananas are believed to have originated up to 10,000 years ago and some scientists believe they may have been the world’s first fruit. The first bananas are thought to have grown in the region that includes the Malaya Peninsula, Indonesia, the Philippines and New Guinea. From here, traders and travelers took them to India, Africa and Polynesia. There were references to bananas from 600 BC when Buddhist scriptures, know as the Pali Canon, noted Indian traders travelling through the Malaysian region had tasted the fruit and brought plants back with them. In 327 BC, when Alexander The Great and his army invaded India, he discovered banana crop in the Indian Valleys. After tasting this unusual fruit for the first time, he introduced this new discovery to the Western world. By 200 AD bananas had spread to China. According to the Chinese historian Yang Fu, bananas only ever grew in the southern region of China. They were never really popular until the 20th Century as they were considered to be a strange and exotic alien fruit.

The bananas we enjoy today are far better than the original wild fruit which contained many large, hard seeds and not much tasty pulp. Bananas as we know them began to be developed in Africa about 650 AD. There was a cross breeding of two varieties of wild bananas, the Musa Acuminata and the Musa Baalbisiana. From this process, some bananas became seedless and more like the bananas we eat today. Bananas are Australia’s number-one selling supermarket product, outselling not only every other fruit and vegetable but every other supermarket line.

What are they

Banana plants are the largest plants on earth without a woody stem. They are actually giant herbs of the same family as lilies, orchids and palms. Banana plants can grow to heights up to 9 metres and look very much like a tree. They are the largest plant on earth without a woody stem.

Where are they grown

Australia’s main banana growing area is the wet tropics of northern Queensland.  Other production areas are in south-east Queensland, northern New South Wales, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. 


Cavendish, Lady Finger, Ducasse, sugar bananas, Goldfinger, Red Dakkas and cooking bananas (plantains). 

How to know when they are ripe

Fruit is harvested, packed and marketed while still green. Ripening is usually done at the wholesale markets.

Fruit which looks round at harvest is too far gone to survive the commercial ripening process intact. In practice this means the fruit should still have noticeable corners at harvest so cut when the fingers are 75% full.

Life cycle

Australian bananas are a product of the rain and sunshine of the tropics and sub tropics. From the time of planting it usually takes 12 months or so to produce the first bunch, with subsequent bunches every 8-10 months thereafter. Because commercial banana plants cannot produce seeds, they are predominately propagated from their underground rhizomes called corms or tissue culture.


All year round



























Weather impacts

As bananas are susceptible to frost damage, they should only be grown on warm, sheltered, frost free sites. Injury to the plant begins when temperate drop below 13  C.

Local market

Fresh consumption, processed.


After packing fruit it should be stored in cold rooms with temperatures 14 ͦ C or above.


Bananas are a healthy and nutritious food containing potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, niacin and riboflavin. They have a low GI rating and give a sustained energy boost.


Cartons weigh a minimum of 13 kilograms.

Links for more information

Australian Banana Growers Council

Australian Bananas



Australian Banana Growers Council Inc (January 2016)

Australian Bananas (January 2016)  

Queensland Department Agriculture and Fisheries ‘Subtropical Banana Growers Handbook’ (January 2016)