It was a resounding success the impressed not only our local coconut producers and farmers, but also foreign delegates, exhibitors and guests in the First World Coconut Congress that kicked off on August 14 and will end on the 16th at the SMX Convention Center, Pasay City.
The phenomenal demand for coconut from various industries excites not only the producers across the globe to cash in on emerging uses of coconut-based products higher up the value chain but also the farmers.
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 super foods due to the high electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, fiber (for coco flour), and low glycemic index (for coco sugar/nectar).
“Apart from that, there are coconut-based raw materials that are currently much-needed in manufacturing and other industrial applications. And these are the in-demand products: coconut MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil, nitrosamine-free coconut-based surfactants, and glyceride food esters,”Reyes said.
“In terms of price, the coconut oil is almost at par with palm kernel oil (PKO) and 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.”
Here are some by-products of coconut that continue to have high demand in the global market:
- The explosion of interest, demand, production, and exports of VCO also opened up new products such as the gluten-free coconut flour and reinvigorated the use of desiccated coconuts in food.
- Coconut water is a phenomenon in itself. It is now widely accepted as superior to the synthetic energy drinks.
- Awareness of the health benefits even of the sap from the efflorescence has increased demand and exports for coconut sugar, coconut nectary syrup, coconut nectar vinegar, coconut aminos.
- From the husk, increasing investments is seen in coir board, coco peat, geotextiles, and finished products made from coir.
- The use of coconut for blending in biodiesel has opened up innovations on the coconut methyl ester fractions as well as coconut glycerine.
Reyes further said particularly for the Philippines that 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 VCOP 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.
“While Thailand maybe 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.
The First World Coconut CongressConference and Exhibition is organized by the Philippine Coconut Authority. It is also supported by various non-governmen organizations and chambers of commerce like the Asian & Pacific Coconut Community, Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce Philippines, Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, French Chamber of Commerce & Industry in the Philippines, Korean Chamber of Commerce Philippines, Organic Coconut Association of the Philippines, Philippine Chamber of Commerce & Industry of the Philippines, Philippine Exporters Confederation.