The Philippines intends to be aggressive in exporting coconut sap (coco) sugar as it bids to get a major share in the $1-billion dollar alternative sweetener market, according to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.

“In tandem with the private sector, we are crafting a master plan to promote coconut sap sugar overseas and win a big share of the $1.1-billion global alternative sweetener market,” Alcala said.

Next month, stakeholders, farmers and Department of Agriculture (DA) officials will hold consultations on the master plan and move to create a system to safeguard the coconut sap sugar industry through product quality certification, the DA said.

Healthier

According to DA studies, coco sugar is a better and healthier alternative to refined sugar that would appeal to diabetics and health buffs.

The country started exporting the product to the United States in 2007 after proving that coconut sap sugar has a low glycemic index (GI) at 35. Any sugar-based product is considered low when its GI is 54 or under. The GI is an indicator of how fast carbohydrates convert to glucose in the blood or how fast carbohydrate turns into sugar.

A certification system would ensure the quality and authenticity of the product as a genuine coconut sap sugar, according to the DA. Unscrupulous traders have been known to mix coconut sap sugar with processed, brown sugarcane-based sugar, it said.

Competition

Only Thailand and Indonesia compete with the Philippines in the production of coco sugar, according to agriculture officials. They believe the Philippines has an advantage because its coconuts are better in quality.

Vigorous marketing of coco sugar would help the Philippines strengthen its hold on being the top exporter of coconut products in the world.

In 2011, the country’s coconut exports reached almost $2 billion, with the bulk of earnings coming from coconut oil.

Coconut water exports jumped 315 percent in the first half of the year to 7.5 million liters after the beverage started to become hugely popular overseas, the government said.

source: newsinfo.inquirer.net

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