PH coco exports up, thanks to coco juice craze

Health-conscious Americans bought $3.9 million worth of coconut water in the first quarter of 2012, an increase of more than 400 percent from the same period last year.

According to Philippine Coconut Authority administrator Euclides Forbes, the Philippines exported 3.7 million liters of coconut water in the first quarter, much more than the 796,000 liters exported in the first quarter of 2011.

Demand for coconut water has also been rising in other countries, PCA said. Exports to the Netherlands grew to 189,800 liters from just 32,000 liters while exports to Australia grew by 362 percent to 65,219 liters.

Forbes said export figures of coconut water for 2012 will exceed the 16.7 million liters exported in 2011. Exports of coconut water last year were worth around $15 million but Forbes said "international demand for coco water continues to rise as more people turn health conscious."

Drinking coconut water is considered beneficial because it is rich in potassium and magnesium.

"Coco water contains a considerable amount of vitamin B such as thiamine which strengthens the muscles, delay fatigue, and maintain normal heart function. It is regarded as a good source of electrolytes and glucose and have been found suitable for intravenous rehydration," Forbes said.

Forbes said there is a need to plant more coconut trees because of a growing demand for coconut water and other coconut by-products. He said growing demand will bring job opportunities for millions of coconut farmers.

According to the latest data from the PCA, 3.56 million hectares of the country is used for growing coconuts, around 26 percent of agricultural land. As of 2009, the Philippines had 341.3 million coconut trees and produced around 15.54 billion coconuts a year.

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