Friday, December 10, 2010

US-based, Fil-Am company to import more coco sugar

To meet the increasing demand of American nutrition and health food chains for coconut sugar, a California-based company run by a Filipino American is planning to triple or even quadruple it imports of this product from the Philippines next year.

“One of our goals is to provide healthy food to American people, about 30 percent of which suffer from obesity," Filipino American Sarahjean Camarenesi, co-founder ofCoconut World, said on Thursday on the sidelines of the Philippine Coconut Industry Summit held by the Department of Agriculture in Quezon City.

Compared with refined cane sugar, coco sugar has a lower glycemic index (GI), which makes it suitable for use by health buffs and diabetics. Having a low GI means that people who consume coco sugar will not experience sudden spikes in their blood glucose or blood sugar levels.

“We’re very glad that the American market responded positively to this product," said Ying Huang, Coconut World’s other co-founder.

“We just started in the beginning of the year, we’re still establishing our marketability. Despite that, demand just kept coming," Huang said.

Camarenesi also disclosed said that the company has undertaken a specific partnership with the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) to market coconut-based products in the United States, starting off with coconut sugar.

The two-day summit, which ended on Dec. 9, discussed the coconut industry's assessment and outlook, the current state of coconut production in the country, marketing issues, and policy and investment issues.

The summit was attended by hundreds of coconut farmers, private seed garden owners, oil millers, desiccated coconut producers, oleochemical companies, coir processors, virgin coconut oil (VCO) producers, biofuel companies, as well as traders and exporters, private R&D institutions, civic groups, agriculture agency representatives and local governments of coconut growing provinces. 

Philippine coconut dominates world exports

The coconut industry dominates Philippine agriculture.

According to the PCA, 3.1 million hectares of the country’s total 12 million hectares of farmlands is devoted to coconut, and 68 out of 79 provinces are coconut areas planted to over 324 million bearing and non-bearing trees.

PCA statistics also show that around 25 million Filipinos are directly or indirectly dependent on the industry, which contributes an annual average of 1.14 percent to Gross National Product.

Philippine exports of coconut products make up over half, or 59 percent, of total world coconut exports. Exports of coconuts count among the top five net foreign exchange earners, bringing in for the country an average of $760 million per year

Access point

Coconut World says it aims to become a market access point to Filipino coconut farmers.

To date, the partnership between Filipino farmers and the company has created jobs for more than 400 families of poor coconut farmers in Aklan, a coconut-growing province in Western Visayas — families whose desperate poverty has made them susceptible to being influenced by communist insurgents. Western Visayas provinces are among the country’s poorest.

“Coconut World's suppliers are our partners and colleagues. We guarantee that farmers earn their fair wages and are not (being) taken advantage of by unscrupulous middlemen," Huang said.

While Coconut World was not the first company to import coco sugar from the Philippines, it was the first to provide direct market linkage to Filipino farmers. It also has a presence in Canada. -- DM/OMG, GMANews.TV

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