Philippine coconut oil (CNO) exports fell for the third straight month in February as copra deliveries remained weak particularly in areas that were hard hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda.
Yvonne Agustin, executive director of the United Coconut Association of the Philippines (UCAP), said the country’s coconut oil shipments dropped 18 percent to 70,900 metric tons in February from 86,868MT a year ago.
The decline was more pronounced in the two months to February, when CNO shipments plunged 35 percent to 143,870 MT from 222,300MT in the same period last year.
Agustin said that the slowdown in CNO exports began to be felt in December, a month after Yolanda hit the country and toppled millions of coconut trees, particularly in the Visayas.
Thankfully, Agustin said CNO exporters continued to enjoy a premium in the international prices of coconut oil over palm kernel oil. She said that during the period, coconut oil prices were pegged at $1,350 per MT compared to just $1,281 per MT for palm kernel oil.
“We still don’t know whether it’s a result of higher demand from abroad, or as a result of the slowdown in the supply. Usually, when prices of coconut oil go up, prices of palm kernel oil follow suit,” Agustin said.
The Philippines is the world’s biggest supplier of coconut oil. It currently exports over 70 percent of the coconut oil it produces, some 80 percent of which is shipped to Europe and the United States.
UCAP lowered its export target for 2014 to about 850,000 MT from from 1.1 million MT last year because of the massive effect of Yolanda on the coconut industry.
The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) said that over 34 million trees—or 10 percent of the country’s 340 million coconut trees—were confirmed damaged by Yolanda in Samar, Leyte, and in Western Visayas.
Meanwhile, Agustin assured that the industry could still meet the requirements for CNO in the local market, as industry players await the approval of the 5-percent blend for diesel fuel sold in the country.
The National Biofuels Board has yet to approve the official increase in the required minimum blend of diesel fuel to 5 percent from the current 2 percent, pending the results of an impact study being conducted by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
NEDA earlier allowed the voluntary increase in the biodiesel blend of oil companies.
Full implementation of the 5-percent CNO blend into diesel fuel is expected to help stabilize the prices of coconut oil in the domestic market.