The Philippines has announced it will formally open its market to US fresh blueberries, effective 24 May 2020.

The US becomes the first country to gain official market access to the Philippines, with US exports expected to supply Philippine retail and food service sectors. The imports will help boost the existing but limited domestic production.

Traders estimate sales of US fresh blueberries could reach US$500,000 in the first season, with the potential for that to grow in excess of US$1m in the future with concerted marketing efforts aimed at increasing consumer awareness.

The Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) had previously allowed limited and intermittent importation of fresh blueberries specifically for hotels, restaurants, and high-end supermarkets.

Sales over the past five years (2015 to 2019) averaged US$150,000 annually according to the DA, which equated to roughly 20 tonnes.

Licensed importers will be required to secure sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance (SPSIC) from the DA’s Bureau of Plant Industry.

Blueberries must not be loaded for export prior to issuance. It must be shipped within 20 days following the issuance and must arrive in the Philippines within 60 days from the ship-out date.

US blueberry imports will be subject to the Most Favoured Nation tariff rate, which currently sits at seven per cent, and will also be subject to 12 per cent Value Added Tax.

The import approval to the Philippines comes only days after China announced it had granted market access to US blueberries.