Shahab has been enthusiastically active in attending international fruits events and congresses around the world following their invitations like Fruit Logistica in Messe Berlin, Asia Fruit Logistica in Hong Kong, Eurofruit Middle East, WOP Dubai, Gulfood Dubai, Fresh Produce India and Worldfood Moscow in order to meet business parties and shipping line agents and also maintaining our friendship with our partners.
In some of these events he was invited to deliver speech.
In 2010 he was invited to Spain Catalonia Apple growers and Exporters Association to make speech. And in 2014 he was invited to International Banana Symposium which is held periodically in different countries and in 2014 was in Davao-Philippines to deliver speech on global Banana Market.
Highlights of the three-day symposium included presentation of the most recent advances in different areas of the banana industry. These included research and development, marketing strategies, logistics, pests and disease management and emerging trends in the industry.
More than 300 delegates worldwide were expected to attend.
Shahab’s speech text is notable since what he had projected in his speech has come true after years.
In the Name of God the Most Compassionate the Merciful
Expressing my greeting to everyone and also my pleasure of being in International Banana Symposium, I’d like to thank my dear friend Mr. Luciano Frederick Puyod, as a reply to his invitation I have attended the event.
As CEO of Zarrin Group I should mention that the company including two major departments of Non-Profit and Trading with its own central office in Tehran, Iran and also its affiliates in Italy, UAE and Tajikistan, follows its business activities with receivers and suppliers in more than 20 countries around the world.
Zarrin Group with more than 10 years of business records in Philippines market, while cooperating continuously and directly and without any middle men with Philippines exporters, has succeeded to establish strong business ties with them under the umbrella of trust, and knows gaining credit and finding valuable friends as its most important achievement.
Anyway, I’ve been asked to review banana trade in Iran’s market as the biggest customer of Philippines in Middle East and I would like to thank you for your attention.
As banana is one of the ten most important agricultural products in the world, and having this fact in mind that banana production is not in a trade scale in Iran, this fruit is the most important import fruit to Iran in terms of both volume and value.
In this regard the history of banana import to Iran could almost be divided into three decades and if we consider the current time as the beginning years of the third decade, I should mention:
In the first period, banana was a luxury and of course an expensive fruit in Iran as compared with local produce and its place was in ceremonies and parties much more than in families' every day basket.
In the second period, because of different reasons which can’t be explained here because of short time, banana changed into an available fruit for everyone and sometimes in some seasons of the year, its price fell even lower than local fruits and so it was positioned as a fruit with different goals in Iranians daily basket.
Looking at the import data it can be understood that at the same time, the import volume of Philippines banana into Iran has been increased strongly. As an example; Figures show that since 2003 until 2011, Iran has always been among the four top receivers of Philippines banana and even since 2006 until 2010, this country has been Philippines second target market for banana export.
This is while at the same time Philippines banana export to Middle East has gone up as well.
For Example; In 2006, Philippines banana export to Middle East has been around 28% of this country's total banana export. And Iran’s share has been almost 60% of total banana export to this region.
Also, in 2010 Philippines banana export to Middle East has been around 38% of total banana export of Philippines. And Iran’s share has been around 58% of total export to Middle East.
In addition in 2011, Philippine has sent around 32% of its exported banana to Middle East, and from this volume, Iran's share has been 45%.
And finally we have the third period, which right now we are in the first years of it and I name it the Challenging Period for Banana Business because of the things happened in this period. Some of these happenings are: the terrible typhoon of Bopha in Philippines in late 2012 which resulted in production fall, the political unrest and sanctions against Iran which after it the services of reefer container shipping lines to Iranian ports were stopped, also the sudden change of exchange rates in Iran and after that the problems for some Iranian importers to do their commitments to Philippines exporters which led to important changes in banana trade players in Iran, and finally the rise of demand in other markets at the time that production in Philippines had dropped. And all of these together led us to a very difficult period of business. However even with all the problems mentioned, not only there was no setback or gap in banana import to Iran for exporters and importers, but also Iranian government in its decision to ban the import of all fresh fruit to Iran, made banana an exception and didn't ban banana import to Iran. And this, itself shows the importance of this fruit in Iranian market.
If we compare the balance of trade between Iran and Philippines in recent two years, I mean we compare it since April 2013 until April 2014 with the same time of a year before; we will see that the value of Iran’s total import from Philippines has gone up for around 69%. This rise has mainly been because of the increase of direct import of Philippines banana to Iran. Meanwhile banana import itself includes more than 93% of total value of Iran’s import from Philippines. However even with of all these, we shouldn’t forget the challenges for these old and firm business relationships. I mean, if we check the banana import data to Iran from all supplier countries around the world in the third period, we see that unfortunately Philippines share from Iranian market as compared with other banana suppliers for Iran has got smaller and on the other hand, other countries have gotten this share.
I should draw your attention to the fact that in the season of 2007 to 2008 Philippines had around 96% of total Iranian banana import market in terms of both volume and value.
This is while during 5 years and with a step by step decrease this share fell into around 83% of volume and value in 2010 to 2011 and again fell to around 60% of volume and value in 2012 to 2013.
But what are the main reasons of this change? I should answer that unfortunately following the sudden and irregular demands of other markets for Philippines banana, Philippines suppliers make Iran’s share smaller. So, Iranian importers go to Latin American banana.
On the other hand, because of sanctions, the direct shipping services between the ports of origin and destination from Latin America to Iran have not been restarted yet. So, the Turk banana importers in Mersin, Turkey use the chance for their own benefit and re-export Latin American banana to Iran through land border. As their banana is easily and quickly available for Iranian buyers, they have gotten a noticeable share of Iranian market.
Little by little, this source of banana supply to Iran will be an alarm for Philippines exporters and their customers in Iran.
Because in long term, Latin American banana will affect the taste of consumers, and there will be demand for this banana in the market. Also these high quality bananas are quickly and easily available for Iranians. And the financial exchange between Turk traders and Iranian importers is easy and fast. Also these Turk traders may do dumping in the trade and so I again mention that this will be an alarm for Philippines suppliers.
Anyway, I should mention that since a year ago and after the new government arrived and the new president was selected in Iran, along with the partial stability of exchange rates in this market that has led to better decision-making of importers and exporters, Iran’s trade relationship with other countries and its business partners have had good changes and in this the fresh fruit business has not been an exception.
Some of these changes are: remove of import bans for tropical fruits other than banana such as pineapple, mango, and coconut, and the restart of international container shipping lines services, first to Bushehr port and recently to Bandar Abbas as the biggest reefer container terminal in Iran, and the second has led to the revival in small banana suppliers' ties with Iranian market and this itself is an important point.
Of course regarding the reefer container shipping services, first I should thank all of them for their permanent support from Zarrin based on our good and old ties together, and should say that I think it would be great if we can have their ideas much more in events such as this, too.
Then I need to mention that at the beginning of their services restart to Iran, there were some problems about the transit time and it affected quality, however recently this problem has been improved. Of course, we always have asked them to do their bests to keep the efforts of suppliers and their customers. It is to be admitted that Iran is a market with the demand of high quality fruits and especially in recent years with the rise of charges, Iranian importers pay attention to quality more seriously.
In this regard, Zarrin Group’s QC department provides both multinational and smaller exporters with detailed and exact quality reports from the arrival of the cargo until the end of ripening process and informs the suppliers about the quality of their cargos.
Based on the same requirements, besides cooperating with multinationals, Zarrin develops it purchases from suppliers who will be allowed to pack in ZARRIN brand upon confirmation of their quality.
At the end I need to stress that what I shared with you, were subjects on business and profit affairs. This is while all of us as active trade players have some social and moral responsibilities toward the society we work and live in, and we should not forget them.
In this regard, Zarrin Group in its Non-profit department has founded a Charity Center in Iran in order to help the people in need in society. This Charity Center is active in five sections of Medical Clinic, Financial Aid, Food Parcels, Dowry and Cultural Section and with this; Zarrin Group has stepped to do its social responsibilities. To explain the services of the non-profit department, I should only mention that in Medical Clinic section of this department around 300 patients are dialyzed every week, free of charge.
Finally, hoping for a day all people live in peace together, I’d like to thank you for your attention.