As tensions continue over the South China Sea ruling, yet another Philippine banana shipment has been intercepted on pest risk grounds.
Qingdao News reported Shandong officials destroyed 21 metric tons (MT) of the fruit, which had a value of US$ 21,683.
The story reported the fruit was put into landfill because the gray pineapple mealybug Dysmicoccus neobrevipes was found in the consignment of 1,556 boxes.
It is the same pest reported in interceptions of Philippine bananas that took place in March.
While the official reason behind the destruction of fruit is pest threats, these types of SPS (Sanitary and Phytosanitary) announcements often coincide with international disputes.
Amid a territorial conflict over the Scarborough Shoal in 2012, China placed restrictions on Philippine bananas alleging mealybug detections.
Last year the Philippines shipped 686,904 metric tons (MT) of bananas to China, accounting for 64% of total imports. However, this represents an 11% reduction year-on-year while the second-largest supplier Ecuador raised its shipments by 22% to reach 283,006MT.
Other suppliers include Myanmar (55,683MT), Thailand (26,115MT) and Vietnam (10,133MT).
Eduardo Ledesma of the Ecuadorian Banana Exporters Association (AEBE) told www.freshfruitportal.com the problem between China and the Philippines could generate more demand for Ecuadorian fruit.
“Hopefully that happens as it would help strengthen Ecuadorian bananas, and in the end it would generate more investments and jobs in Ecuador,” he said.
“This year we’ve fallen by more than half in China, mainly because prices from the Philippines are cheaper and the distance for them is much shorte. We also have some domestic problems – we have to be more agile. We must have procedures and processes that are less cumbersome.
China-Philippines conflict flows over to social media
Philippine mango growers have also suffered from the conflict, with some Chinese fruit traders refusing to stock the country’s dried mango products amid calls for a boycott.
Also on social media, Chinese netizens have slammed a Japanese YouTuber for a video (which you can see below) eating 137 Philippine bananas, in what some saw as a reference to China’s population of 1.37 billion people, Mingpao reported.
“During this sensitive period, you eat 137 bananas from the Philippines to insult China – do you have brains? Do you think us Chinese people can be easily bullied?” one comment said.
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