Philippines is launch site for coconut’s rise up the value chain
Phenomenal demand for coconut from various industries is priming producers across the globe to cash in on emerging uses of coconut-based products higher up the value chain.
Marco Reyes, Vice Chairman of the United Coconut Association of the Philippines (UCAP), said the industry is globally in a transition from low value to value addition. This is mainly driven by demand from the health and wellness market.
Reyes said that, for health and wellness, no other oil is as versatile as coconut oil for cooking, health care, personal care, seasoning and even baking. Coconut flour, coconut water, coconut milk, coconut vinegar, coconut sugar are considered superfoods due to the high electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, fiber (for coco flour), and low glycemic index (for coco sugar/nectar).
More than that, there are coconut-based raw materials that are currently much-needed in manufacturing and other industrial applications.
“Examples of these in-demand products now are coconut MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil, nitrosamine-free coconut-based surfactants, and glyceride food esters,” Reyes said.
“Now that coconut oil is almost at parity with palm kernel oil (PKO) in terms of price, this gives an advantage for oleochemical producers of fatty acids, fatty alcohols, and glycerine,” Reyes added. “In particular, the short-chain fatty acid content of coconut compared to PKO is higher and it is now very much sought after.”
Further, Reyes said that — particularly for the Philippines — the transition to value-addition paves the way for industry players to “increasingly capture and squeeze the most economic gains with a multiplier effect in the economy from every coconut the tree makes.
The UCAP president said that for markets in the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, the label “Made in the Philippines” is an advantage in itself when it comes to virgin coconut oil, coconut water, coconut flour, coconut sugar, coco aminos, and coconut nectar vinegar.
“Thailand is the leader for coconut milk, but coconut milk from the Philippines from UHT process is getting headway,” Reyes said. “Indonesia competes with the Philippines for coconut sugar, but the quality of Philippine coconut sugar is at premium even if it is more expensive.”
Beyond competition, industries in the health, wellness, and Green sectors offer the biggest opportunities for all coconut products — in terms of growth and better prices — not only in the Philippines but from other coconut producing countries as well.