August 18, 2017, Mandaluyong City, Philippines – The coconut industry is showing signs of resurgence, Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Administrator Romulo J. de la Rosa said Friday.
In a press conference during the opening of the 2017 Coconut Week at the SM Mega Trade Hall, de la Rosa said that trade in coconut products, once considered a "sunset industry" is now picking up, both in the domestic and international markets.
"It's no longer just copra...markets for coco water, activated carbon from coco shell, and geo-textiles from coco coir are also expanding," he said.
The Philippines, the world's leading exporter of coconut products, saw a 93.86 percent growth in the volume of coco oil exports since 2016. Data from the PCA for January to May 2017 also show growth in exports of non-traditional products such as hydrogenated coconut oil, coconut chips, bukayo, and coconut sugar.
De la Rosa added that the country has also captured new markets in China and Russia through President Rodrigo Roa Duterte's diplomatic initiatives.
"The industry’s resurgence may be one of the reasons why its competitors in the vegetable oil market have unleashed a campaign against coconut oil in the US," he said, referring to the recent claim by the American Heart Association (AHA) that the oil is unhealthy.
PCA and regional intergovernmental body, the Asia Pacific Coconut Community (APCC), have launched campaigns to address AHA's claim, clarifying that the latter's position is "unfounded, specious and unfair."
APCC Executive Director Uron Salum said that the AHA assertions against coco oil are “based on old studies” dating back to the 1950s. “It has a lot of errors based on bad science,” he said.
APCC was formed on September 2, 1968 under the auspices of the United Nation’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP) to strengthen regional cooperation among the coconut producing countries. It is based in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Locally, the industry also faces challenges, with farmers still waiting for the passage of the coco levy bill.
Joining the farmers in their call for Congress's immediate action, de la Rosa said they are hopeful that the bill, creating a trust fund to manage the coco levy fund, will be passed within the year.
“The PCA has been consulting all stakeholders on the various provisions of the law, especially as those that pertain to farmers’ welfare and benefits…the fund should be used to develop the industry to benefit all those who contributed to the levy, especially the coco farmers,” the PCA Administrator said.