THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it views coconut products as a potential source of export growth, following a decline in the value of merchandise exports in August.

Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said demand for coconut products is expected to expand in foreign markets, given proper marketing.

“We are confident that with the right marketing strategy, coconut products will gain more traction in international markets, especially as more markets discover the numerous health benefits of coconut products, particularly coconut oil,” Mr. Pascual said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), citing preliminary data, estimated that merchandise exports fell 2% year on year by value to $6.410 billion in August.

The DTI said on a year-to-date basis, export sales rose 4.4% to $51.2 billion. Citing PSA data, it said growth was driven by demand for coconut oil, chemicals, other mineral products, other manufactured products, and electronic products.

“Coconut oil ranked as the fastest-growing commodity group, recording 96.2% year-to-date growth with cumulative export sales reaching $1.6 billion. Export earnings from coconut oil in August 2022 also increased to $168.2 million or 26.6% (from a year earlier),” the DTI said.

“Overall, coconut oil exports have consistently been increasing at double-digit growth rates compared to three time periods: 2021, 2020, and the pre-pandemic average from 2017 to 2019,” it added.

According to Mr. Pascual, “Under the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan (CFIDP), the DTI has been assisting coconut farmer enterprises in entering/growing their presence in global markets through the implementation of extensive market research and strategies for the promotion of coconut products.”

The DTI said the growth of veganism is increasing demand for plant-based products such as coconut oil and coconut milk as alternatives to animal fat and dairy products.

“(The) DTI has been showcasing Philippine coconut exports in the recently concluded International Food Exhibition in Pasay, Selangor International Expo in Kuala Lumpur, and the Salon International de L’ Alimentation in Paris. Based on the International Trade Centre’s Export Potential Assessment, the Philippines has the potential to expand its exports of coconut products to $2.1 billion,” the DTI said.

“In terms of export markets, the US accounted for $1.1 billion or 16.3% of the Philippines’ total exports, followed by Japan at $931.4 million (14.5%), China $839.2 million (13.1%), Hong Kong $729.3 million (11.4%), and Singapore $433.9 million (6.8%),” the DTI said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave