LOS ANGELES—The Philippines has officially become the first Asian country to export bananas to the United States, with the first shipment of the highland Cavendish variety from Bukidnon arriving at the Port of Long Beach last week.
“We’re excited to see our very own bananas in grocery stores in California soon,” Consul General Hellen Barber-de la Vega told the Inquirer after she inspected the products at the ripening warehouse on Sunday (Manila time). “We waited eight years for this to happen.”
The bananas are scheduled to be delivered to large retailers—including the giant supermarket chain Albertson’s and specialty stores Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods—as early as this Friday (Saturday in Manila), De la Vega said. “We’re just waiting for confirmation from the distributor.”
Seven metric tons of the bananas arrived on Sept. 9 at Long Beach in Los Angeles County as part of the 3,000 metric tons the US plans to import from the Philippines this year, the Philippine Embassy said in a statement.
“With this shipment, we are hopeful that Philippine bananas would be able to find and satisfy a niche in the competitive US banana market,” Ambassador Jose Cuisia Jr. said.
The Philippines first sought access to the US market eight years ago, according to Agriculture Attaché Dr. Josyline Javelosa.
“Philippine bananas are among the best in the world and there is an opportunity to bring in the unique and special banana varieties like lakatan and latundan which Filipinos in the United States have long been craving and which Americans can learn to love,” said Javelosa.
The highland bananas, marketed in the United States under the Sweetio brand, were exported by Dole Philippines to Dole Food Company Inc. and were shipped from the Mindanao International Container Terminal in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental, on Aug. 20.