by Agnes P. R. Legaspi / Assistant Director / DTI-EMB

Published in Business Mirror

19 September 2017

THE Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Export Marketing Bureau (EMB) supported 17 Regional Interactive Platform for Philippine Exporters (Ripples) Plus and enrolled Philippine coconut exporters in a 2017 US Coconut Roadshow.

Philippine exporters participating in the road show included Amazing Foods Corp., Chemrez Technologies Inc., Coco Plus, Coco Veda, Coconut Cures, Dignity, Eau de Coco, Franklin Baker Co. of the Philippines, Galo Organic and Naturals, Greenlife Coconut Products Philippines Inc., Hancole Corp., MarinduqueLand Corp., Pasciolco Agri Ventures, Nuco/ProSource International Inc., Wellness Care International Inc. and Tongsan Industrial Development Corp.

Of the exporters, 11 of them were registered as nonexhibiting manufacturers in the 2017 Natural Products Expo East held at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, Maryland. Three Philippine coconut exporters—Franklin Baker, Eau de Coco and Dignity—exhibited at the Expo.

The expo’s trade show took place from September 14 to 16 and is considered the East Coast’s leading trade show in the natural, organic and healthy-products industry.

The group of coconut exporters, together with key officials from the United Coconut Association of the Philippines (Ucap) and the Virgin Coconut Oil Philippines (VCOP), is currently on a US coconut road show, an outbound business-matching mission to several key cities in the US, to promote coconut oil and coconut-based products, like food, personal items and cosmetics, and even pet care.

Coconut products support the healthy, non-GMO and gluten-free lifestyle of the American market.

On September 7 the Philippine coconut exporters participated in the 50th Asean Anniversary Forum organized by the Asean Trade Commissioners, in partnership with the Port of Los Angeles. It was an opportunity to network with the US businessmen and other Asean delegates.

The next day, the Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC)-Los Angeles organized a business-to-business meeting with 38 buyers and some contracts were signed during the event. Store checks were made at the Seafood City and Island Pacific Supermarket with possible marketing partnership with the latter. It was validated coconut oil and other by-products remain to be popular in the mainstream US market.

PTIC-Washington, D.C., organized information sessions with the US Department of Agriculture, the Organic Trade Association, US-Philippines Society, Foodshowcase USA, the USA Halal Chamber of Commerce and Registrar Corp.

The group was also briefed on the US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Program, including identifying coconut products that could benefit from GSP treatment. The meetings in Washington, D.C., highlighted the importance of the policy aspects of exporting to the US, including compliance to US food-safety regulations, labeling and making Philippine exporters aware of other nontariff measures.

More store checks were completed in Washington, D.C., namely, Dawson’s Market and Mom’s Organic Market. These stores cater to the mainstream US market and carry coconut oil, coco-based food, and personal care and cosmetic products.

Representatives from the two stores confirmed that the American Heart Association’s (AHA) negative advisory on coconut oil has no ill effect to the sales of coconut-related products. They also confirmed coco-based products are popular and part of their customers’ healthy lifestyle despite the AHA’s recently issued presidential advisory against saturated fats as bad for heart health.

An onsite visit at 2A Marketing, a Filipino importer and wholesaler, also gave our exporters a perspective of the fast-moving products in the Washington, D.C., metro area.

The delegation also had an opportunity to dialogue with a number of US companies, including Franklin Baker and Carrington Farms, to exchange views on how to further educate American consumers on the benefits of coconut oil.

In the next few days, the delegation will go to Colorado to meet with Dr. Bruce Fife, a leading naturopathic practitioner in the US, who also authored several books on coconut oil and its positive effects.

The last leg would be in San Francisco where the PTIC-San Francisco has organized more business meetings with US buyers.

The DTI’s implementation of the US Roadshow is in partnership with the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) who is committed to support Philippine coconut exporters to more trade-related events and boost the growth of the coconut industry, thereby helping more Filipino coconut farmers and coconut farming communities all over the Philippine Archipelago. This is aligned with the inclusive growth agenda of the Duterte administration.