Non-traditional coco products to boost exports
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - August 4, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Non-traditional coconut products will help drive Philippine agricultural exports amid an increasing global consumer preference for organic and healthy products, according to the University of Asia and the Pacific.

In its latest industry report, the UA&P said traditional coconut products, particularly coconut oil and copra, have seen a 10 percent decline in their share of the total coconut exports.

“The share of non-traditional exports, which includes coconut water, milk, milk powder, cream, among others, has increased driven by the increasing global consumer preference for organic and healthy products, which is fueled mainly by coconut water,” UA&P said.

The Philippine Coconut Authority considers the country’s coconut industry as an export-oriented sector, with the international market absorbing more than half of total production of value-added coconut products.

UA&P said the coconut industry market has undergone a transformation in the past 15 years, mainly influenced by supply and demand factors.

“From the dominance of coconut oil as the main product for export, the market profile has shifted into a multi-product industry with non-traditional coconut products gaining popularity especially with the growing concern for health and wellness,” UA& P said.

“The key trends that will drive the industry include health and wellness concerns, increasing preference and premium for organic products, the need for certifications and audits from different certifying bodies especially for big markets like the UD and EU, traceability down to the farm and production practices, and the growing concern for the environment, especially the campaign for a plastic waste-free world,” it said.

For one, coconut water is one of the fastest growing beverage categories in the global market, with exports growing 154 percent annually in volume and 159 percent per year on value in the past 10 years.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that  exports reached 63 million liters of coconut water valued at $89 million with the US as its biggest market.

UA&P said coconut water has vast export possibilities as the global market is projected to grow from 536.9 million liters in 2016 to 1.33 billion liters by 2021, for an annuaal compounded growth rate of 26.75 percent.

Aside from coconut water, coconut milk is seen as  an alternative coffee creamer in the US. Gluten and dairy-free coconut milk are also becoming acceptable substitutes to cow’s milk for consumers who are lactose-intolerant.

Coconut milk powder exports have also been growing  38 percent every year on volume and 60 percent per year on value with the Netherlands, Japan, France,  Australia and the US  as the Philippines’  main markets.

Desiccated coconut, already among the country’s top agricultural exports, continues to grow with exports projected to grow by 8.6 percent per year from 2019 to to 2023.

In 2018, exports reached 145,100 metric tons valued at $338.4 million with the US, Netherlands, Australia, UK, and Canada as the leading destinations.

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