A trade exposition held in Maryland late in September generated about $6 million (about P300 million) in sales for producers of coconut products in the Philippines.
With the development, the United Coconut Associations of the Philippines (UCAP) has assured farmers and makers of virgin coconut oil and other processed coconut—not only here but among Asian Pacific producers—that the US market continues to rave over coconut and its health benefits.
“America still loves our coconuts,” said UCAP Chairman Dean Lao Jr. in a briefing during the Maryland East Expo Roadshow.
The trade mission, supported by the Department of Trade and Industry, Philippine Coconut Authority, Philippine Embassy and attaches in the US, also went throughout Washington D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver to affirm the scientifically-evident health benefits of coconut.
While there has been misinformation on coconut oil apparently arising from competitor products like soybean oil, UCAP said the sentiment of the US consumer market is to defend coconut products.
Scientific studies have linked medium chain fatty acid (MCFA) content in coconut oil to less incidence of cardiovascular disease in studied populations. MCFA has also widely recognized now as the major ingredient in energy-boosting ketogenic diet.
Yvonne Agustin, UCAP executive director, said January to June 2017 export of coconut products was $1.132 billion, nearly double the $636 million export in the same period of 2016.
The private-public sector trade group will carry out more programs to attest to authorities scientific proof of coconut oil’s nutritional benefits.
Fabian Dayrit, Asia-Pacific Coconut Community Scientific Advisory Committee-Health chairman, said APCC has communicated with the Food and Agriculture Organization regarding its position against a presidential advisory issued by the American Heart Association that branded coconut oil as a saturated fat and classified it as the same as any animal fat – which it is not.
“FAO agreed to a technical meeting in a scientific conference among experts in 2018,” said Dayrit.
FAO is also a United Nations organization. The APCC’s communication with FAO will be important as APCC also deals with the World Health Organization, also a UN agency.
As the Philippines thrives in exporting virgin coconut oil and semi-processed coconut products in bulk, Lao said it is pertinent for the country to intensively invest in product research. Thailand has led Southeast Asian countries in coconut product innovation.