Brand NZ remains unscathed in the Philippines, New Zealand’s fourth largest market for dairy products, despite Fonterra’s food contamination scare in other countries and wider international concerns around manuka honey labelling.
Hernando Banal, New Zealand’s trade commissioner to the Philippines, says the Filipino media have paid little attention to either story. They have been preoccupied with controversial national news which has included two bombings in the south of the country and widespread public protests against the “pork barrel” corruption scandal in which politicians are accused of appropriating public money for private sector, or personal, projects.
Banal was speaking at an ASEAN NZ Business Council meeting in Auckland.
He adds that New Zealand has a good relationship with the Philippine Government and supporting agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “We’re very frank and transparent with them and that helps.”
According to NZTE, milk powder, butter, cheese and cream comprise the bulk of New Zealand’s $440 million dairy exports to the Philippines. They are used primarily for ingredients and processing.
Banal adds that any concerns raised in the Philippines about New Zealand dairy products have tended to come from members of the Chinese-Filipino business community who maintain strong links with China and Taiwan.
He says the New Zealand brand is still seen in a positive light in the Philippines and is a cost-effective way for companies to band together in the market.
Growing numbers of middle class consumers are looking to buy luxury food and beverage items.
GDP grew 6.6 percent in the Philippines last year and a 2013 first quarter 7.8 percent increase outperformed all other countries in Asia, including China.
Banal says many New Zealanders do not realise that English is widely spoken in the Philippines, and that business documentation including product labels, and legal and commercial papers may all be in English.
He advises New Zealand exporters to think carefully when selecting a local partner, adviser or consultant and to allow plenty of time to complete company registration and other requirements.
Just over 90 New Zealand companies currently export to the Philippines although fewer than ten have a permanent presence there. These include Fonterra, Tonkin & Taylor and mining, geotechnical engineering and ground investigation firm RDCL.
By Ruth Le Pla. Email [email protected]
Photo: NZTC to the Philippines Hernando Banal (left) and Sentinel International director Guy Slocum at the recent ASEAN NZ Business Council meeting.