Agri dept’s food deal with SKorea firm to net P28B

THE Philippines’ three-year food agreement with South Korean supermarket chain EMart will earn P28 billion for the country’s agricultural sector and benefit farmers, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said on Thursday.

In a statement, Piñol described the fruit and food supply pact—sealed by President Rodrigo Duterte and EMart President and CEO Gab-soo Lee at the chain’s main outlet in Seoul’s Seongsu district on Tuesday—as the “biggest business deal” struck by the sector “with a single company…through the direct intervention of a sitting President.”

According to him, the EMart chief told Duterte that the deal could go beyond its targeted level as there was a “huge demand” for Philippine fruits in the East Asian country.

“Lee told President Duterte that EMart prefers to source its fruit supplies from the Philippines because of its proximity to South Korea, which results in fresher products,” the Agriculture chief said.

EMart—a sister company of Samsung, Shinsegae Food Inc., and Shinsegae Duty Free department store—is South Korea’s largest supermarket chain with over 160 outlets nationwide and a newly opened branch in Vietnam.

At present, the company sells about 110 billion won ($103 million or P5.41 billion) worth of Philippine products annually, 58 percent of which are pineapples and bananas.

EMart also gets fruits from Vietnam, Thailand, and South America.

Piñol said his department engaged with EMart through its South Korea attaché Aleli Maghirang. She was assisted by the Philippine Embassy staff under Ambassador Raul Hernandez and the Agriculture department’s International Affairs Division.

“The supply deal is expected to boost the growth of Philippine agriculture and benefit thousands of Filipino farmers,” he added.

The agreement could help boost the sales of Philippine agricultural products by 10 percent a year, according to EMart.

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