THE VOLUME of coconut exports grew last year but still fell short of the government’s target as the country’s major markets are still recovering from economic slowdown.
Coconut exports increased by 1.49% to 1.53 million metric tons (MT) last year from 1.51 million MT in 2011. However, the volume of exports did not meet the government target of 1.824 million MT for 2012, preliminary data from Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) showed.

“The coconut industry was not able to meet its target because its major markets are still recovering from economic slowdown,” PCA Administrator Euclides G. Forbes told reporters in a press briefing yesterday. The country’s major markets for its coconut exports include Japan, Germany, Netherlands and China.

In terms of value, coconut exports declined by 21.57% to $1.535 billion from 2011’s P1.957 billion. “Lower demand drove prices down,” Mr. Forbes explained.

Coconut oil exports contributed 55.76% to total coconut exports last year.

The Philippines was able to ship 852,000 MT of coconut oil and other coconut oil-related products last year, 3.71% higher than 2011’s 821,000 MT.

United Coconut Association of the Philippines, Inc. (UCAP) Executive Director Yvonne V. Agustin attributed the increase to the recovery of US and Europe (the two leading export markets for coconut oil) from economic slowdown.

The volume of copra meal exports reached 598,000 MT last year, 90.29% higher than 314,000 MT in 2011. Copra meal is used as livestock feeds.

“South Korea and Japan increased the volume of copra meal they are importing,” Mr. Forbes said. However, he said that data about copra meal exports to Japan and South Korea are not immediately available.

Desiccated coconut exports fell by 10.16% to 98,000 MT last year from 2011’s 109,000 MT.

Exports of coconut shell charcoal increased by 80.87% last year to 45,000 MT from 25,000 MT in 2011.

Exports of activated carbon from coconut shells exports, used for water filters, increased to 38,000 MT last year from 23,000 MT in 2011, while exports of coconut chemicals fell by 27.54% to 24,000 MT this year from 33,000 MT in 2011. Meanwhile, Mr. Forbes said that they are conceptualizing a “coconut estate” to boost the country’s coconut industry.

“We are still conceptualizing this but we are targeting to start this project within this year,” Mr. Forbes said adding that this project will be suggested by Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala to President Benigno S. C. Aquino III.

He said that the “coconut estate” will be a 150-hectare complex wherein manufacturers and processors can set-up factories and manufacturing facilities. Mr. Forbes said that this will enable the coconut industry to share technology and take advantage of economies of scale.

The budget is still being deliberated upon, Mr. Forbes said.

He said that one of the areas being eyed for the “coconut estate” is Quezon Province, one of the key coconut producing areas. “We want the coconut estate to be Asia’s first center for coconut products,” Mr. Forbes said.

Coconut is one of the country’s top export earners.

As much as 68 out of the 79 provinces produce coconuts for export, covering 3.6 million hectares nationwide.
 



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