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15 July 2014

MIAMI— Ask for Philippine products—possibly malunggay tea, coconut sugar and even San Miguel beer the next time you go on board some of the world’s leading cruise lines, the Philippine Embassy said today.

In his report to Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario, Ambassador Cuisia said officials of Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Lines whom he met during a recent economic diplomacy mission in Florida have all expressed serious interest in carrying products from the Philippines in their cruise ships.

“The cruise lines welcomed our proposals for them  to carry Philippine-made products such as souvenirs and furniture as well as other alternatives that they could offer their health conscious guests such as coconut sugar and malunggay tea,” Ambassador Cuisia said.

Agriculture Attache Josyline Javelosa, who accompanied Ambassador Cuisia in the mission, said coconut sugar and malunggay tea are among the products that have proven to be promising in terms of consumer reception in United States-based trade shows such as the Natural Products Expositions and Kosherfest participated in by Filipino food manufacturers during the past few years.

In addition, Javelosa said the cruise companies were also urged to consider San Miguel products as well as fresh Philippine mangoes and bananas.

Commercial Counselor Maria Roseni M. Alvero, who was also accompanied Ambassador Cuisia, said that food products offered to the cruise liners go through a stringent pre-qualification process but she is confident that Philippine food products have a very good chance of being carried by the cruise liners.

Alvero said Philippine mainstreamed products like dried and processed fruits, seafood and beverages will benefit not only cruise guests but also the large number of crewmembers who favor ethnic foods and condiments.

Alvero said the Panama Canal expansion project, which will be completed next year, would also be advantageous to Philippine companies willing to penetrate not just the cruise ship market but also South America.

“The expansion of the Panama Canal will also result in greater trade with the US and South America as it will take a shorter time for Philippine food exports to reach their destinations,” she said. “This is something the Philippines should take advantage of.”

According to Eric Olafon, Port of Miami Cargo Development Manager, the Panama Canal expansion will minimize travel time of goods from the Philippines to the Port of Miami from over 21 days to 18 days. ###