“It is a breakthrough for Philippine pili nuts!”

Department of Agriculture (DA) Bicol Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD) Chief Adelina Losa expresses her thrill on the news that the Philippine pili nut (Canarium ovatum) is now authorized to be placed in the European Union (EU) markets and its 27 member states as a traditional food from a developing country.

The announcement was made through the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2023/267 issued on February 8, 2023. The said Regulation was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on February 9, 2023. It amended the Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/2470, which places pili nuts in the updated Union list of novel foods.

According to Losa, this is an affirmation that the efforts made by the DA team to prove that the pili nut is safe for consumption for the past 25 years and regain EU market access have paid off. The Regulation notes that the application is compliant with the requirements laid down in Article 14 of the EU Regulation 2015/2283 of the European Parliament and of the Council or the New Novel Food Regulation (EU) issued on November 25, 2015. The latter cites the rules for the placing of novel foods or food that has not been used for human consumption to any significant degree in the EU before May 15, 1997, on the EU market. Following the said regulation, pili nut was blocked and temporarily stopped as an export product in the EU.

Meanwhile, the recent Commission Implementing Regulation confirms that dried pili nuts have a history of safe food use in the Philippines. The Commission then forwarded the application to the Member States and to the European Food Safety Authority, which declared the absence of duly reasoned safety objection and safety concerns to the placing of pili nuts on the market within the European Union.

The European Food Safety Authority also noted that allergic reactions may be expected after pili nut consumption based on limited published evidence on food allergy related to nuts. Hence, dried pili nuts that will be made available to the consumers should be appropriately labeled.

Losa thanked the DA team composed of the Department of Agriculture Bicol, Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), DA Food Development Center (FDC), DA International Affairs Division European Desk, and Office of the Agricultural Attaché in Brussels for their support to the undertaking particularly in the preparation and submission of the dossier or data package on European Commission-compliant pili nuts. She also acknowledged the contribution of Department of Science and Technology Bicol Regional Standards and Testing Laboratories (RSTL) Laboratory Head Cristopher G. Millena whose studies on Philippine pili substantiated the safety assessments made by the FDC and BPI which include pili nuts’ nutritional analysis, aflatoxin analysis, heavy metals analysis and microbial analysis.

“Because of your persistent efforts, our pili nut farmers and processors will now have a larger market because demand for pili nut will increase,” she added.

Moreover, she recommended the use of hot-water treatment as well as improvement of post-harvest facility and process and product development to comply with EU’s food safety standards.

Pili is Bicol’s flagship commodity and is recognized as one of the country’s high-value crop. Data from the DA-Bicol High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) shows that as of 2017, Bicol has 13,435 farmers engaged in pili production. The region has 142, 405 hectares of pili area and shares about 6,224.26 metric tons or 89 percent of the country’s pili production. Moreover, Bicol has 164 local pili processors with about 2,233 kilograms volume requirement per day. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA RAFIS V)

For more details about the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2023/267 of 8 February 2023, click the link below:


Photos credit: Eduardo D. Collantes, Jr.