‘War boosts demand for PHL coco products’

The Philippines’s exports of coconut-based products, such as coconut flour, will continue to grow this year due to the increasing demand for sustainable and alternative products to farm goods that have become more expensive following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Rose Villaruel, Philippine Coconut Authority’s (PCA) trade and market development manager, said the rebound in coconut-based exports seen in 2021 will continue this year.

Earnings from coconut exports last year grew by almost 60 percent to nearly $2 billion due to the surge in the value of all coconut-based shipments, according to Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data.

Excluding coconut oil, the Philippines exported $508.639-million worth of other coconut-based products (desiccated coconut, copra meal, coco coir, coco charcoal, etc), which was 53.62 percent higher than the previous year’s $331.068 million (Related story: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2022/04/28/phl-coco-oil-exports-may-breach-1-5b-on-tight-vegetable-oil-supply/).

“The trend is expected to continue because of the growing demand for healthy food and preferences for natural, environment-friendly products,” Villaruel told the BusinessMirror.

Alternative materials

Villaruel said the ongoing global crisis will increase the demand for certain Philippine coconut-based exports, such as coconut flour.

“More so, as supplies of other raw materials become more expensive brought about by the global crisis, alternative materials will find their place, such as coconut flour as alternative to wheat flour.”

The latest PSA data showed that exports of all coconut-based products in the first quarter rose by 92.1 percent to $747.21 million from last year’s $389.01 million.

The export value of other coconut products, excluding coconut oil, from January to March rose by more than half to $148.189 million from $96.512 million.

The country’s exports of desiccated coconut jumped by 47.1 percent to $115.30 million from $78.4 million while shipments of copra meal/cake, an alternative raw material for making animal feeds, grew by 31.5 percent year-on-year to $19.19 million.

In 2021, the country’s shipments of copra meal grew by 52.4 percent to $397.262 million from $260.739 million in 2020, based on PSA data. Exports of coconut flour, an alternative to wheat flour, rose by 16.86 percent to $5.387 million last year from $4.609 million in 2020.

Activated carbon

Villaruel said the outlook for activated carbon is also positive as demand for the raw material in various industries like pharmaceuticals and electronics remains robust.

“Demand will continue to grow because the product is used in industrial, pharmaceuticals, electronics and even mining industries which are continuously growing.”

However, Villaruel noted that the uptick in global and domestic demand for coconut charcoal will pose a challenge to the country’s activated carbon exports. Coconut-based charcoal is the raw material used for manufacturing coconut-based activated carbon.

“Of course demand [for coconut charcoal] is growing.  Increasing use of charcoal will deter growth of activated carbon because it will reduce the raw material base.”

Exports of activated carbon last year went up by 16.2 percent to $143.939 million from $123.856 million in 2020 while exports of coconut shell charcoal more than doubled to $36.757 million from $15.082 million.