Bicol’s pili nuts hit EU markets again
MANILA, Philippines — Europeans will soon get another chance to munch on pili, the humble buttery-tasting nut that is native to the Philippines and mostly grown by Bicol farmers.
Philippine growers will resume exporting dried pili nuts to the 27 member states of the European Union (EU) after the product passed its food safety and labeling requirements, Malacañang said on Monday.
In a statement, the Palace cited the bloc’s issuance of European Commission Implementing Regulation 2023/267, dated Feb. 8, authorizing the inclusion of dried pili nuts in the list of novel foods that may be sold in the EU market.
The Department of Agriculture (DA), which President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. heads as concurrent secretary, “welcomed the EU issuance that opens market opportunities for the country’s pili industry,” the Palace said.
Export of the pili nut, which is considered novel as it had not been significantly used for human consumption in the EU before May 1997, was temporarily halted with the enforcement of new EU rules for novel foods in 2015.
“The EU market opening will benefit local pili processors and exporters, including thousands of pili farmers, as this opportunity enables them to gain more income from higher value commodities,” Malacañang said.
Pili nuts come from tropical trees belonging to the genus Canarium. A species, Canarium ovatum. It’s native to the Philippines.
The Bicol region is the country’s top pili producer, having almost 1,800 hectares, or 90 percent, of the nut’s total production area in the Philippines, and credited for 84 percent of the total production volume, at 4,932.60 metric tons, based on 2021 Philippine Statistics Authority data.
“Diversifying exports is one strategy being utilized for the Philippine economy to become more resilient against adverse global shocks,” the Palace said.
It added that Marcos wanted the country’s agricultural value chain strengthened so that local farmers would be more competitive as suppliers of export-grade products.
In line with the president’s directive, the DA is promoting “farm clustering and consolidation and production upscaling” to ensure high quality and volume of export products, it said.
The DA’s Bureau of Plant Industry, High Value Crops Development Program, Agribusiness Marketing Assistance Service, Philippine Rural Development Project, and the DA-Bicol Regional Field Office are actively involved in developing the pili industry.
Major export markets for Philippine pili include the United States, the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, and Canada.