COVID, Shipping and The Philippines – Market News

The Philippines has a population of 110 million people spread over 7,100 islands.

Sadly, there have been 4,639 COVID death as of 15th September and quarter of a million cases with over 200,000 recovered.  (The Philippines has one of the lowest % cases and deaths worldwide for a large populous country).  The sporadic nature of the reporting within the Philippines and the spread of people throughout the country make looking at trends difficult. However, trends do look like they are going up and not down.

On the 14th September, it was reported that President Rodrigo Duterte was likely to extend Proclamation 929 issued in March, (the declaration of a state of calamity), because of this.

What does this mean for the coconut production industry in the Philippines? 

As we have said before factories are facing ongoing staffing challenges as people struggle to get into work, because of the lockdown Plus, the factories are in more populous areas. Therefore the cases of COVID are higher, and as with the rest of the world as testing gets more readily available more people are testing positive in these areas with the tests run by local authorities.

There is likely to be occasional disruptions to supply dues to localised COVID outbreaks showing up more often with increased testing.

It is not just the Philippines, other countries like Indonesia are facing the same challenges.

There is another potential cloud on the horizon.

Shipping, more precisely crews on ships, as we mentioned earlier in the year crew as getting stranded on commercial fleets –

News reports about cruise ship crews stranded are showing up in mainstream news (see this report in the Guardian )

But as reported in this week’s Grocer Magazine, there is a ticking timebomb in commercial shipping fleets, (

As many as 250,000 crew are effectively stuck onboard ship right now.

“Many of those on board haven’t stepped off their vessel for well over a year. Just consider that for a moment. This isn’t just an economic crisis, it’s a humanitarian one, and it has the potential to get much worse,” Graham Westgarth, VP of the UK Chamber of Shipping and CEO of ship management company V.Group.

There are reports of some crews protesting and striking over their treatment. There is potential for this to spread, and this could cause widespread delays to global shipping.

We have already seen shipping delays due to other issues, delays in major ports (usually staffing related) or shortages of food-safe containers.

All these situations are out of direct control of producers, brokers and importers and the end-user.

Right now, these are just potential challenges, and we may not see any come to fruition, but if 2020 has taught the world anything, it’s to plan for the worse and if it doesn’t happen 😀.

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