Finally, we're using our coconuts
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2011-09-25
Finally, we’re using our coconuts. Long bruited about as the tree of life, lack of imagination and marketing skills have prevented us from making full use of our coconuts. As the old expression goes: “We’ve not been using our coconuts (brains).” Well, a recent market development could change all that and we could be cashing in on our coconuts very soon.

More than the praises for good governance from US President Barack Obama and the World Bank, the best piece of good news that President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) brought home from the US is that the growing market for coconut water, or more popularly called coco water, has tapped our own produce. Coco water is not to be con fused with coconut milk. Coco water is the natural juice of the coconut while coconut milk is a derivative from the meat of the coconut. Coconut oil, which has previously set a global market trend as a health-enhancing tonic, is also different from coco water.

The firms Pepsi Co. and Vita Coco have expressed their intent to tap Philippine coco water. Vita Coco is set to invest US$15 million in the next four years on Philippine coco water. This could be the start of something big for our long depressed coconut farmers. The coconut industry has been suffering from a long slump and many coconut farmers, at one time, even went into the desperate measure of chopping their coconut trees and transformed it into coco lumber, a cheaper alternative to wood from vanishing forests.

Gatorade has been the replenishment beverage of the past three decades, promoted no doubt by big name athletes. Seen being guzzled by the world’s top athletes during game time outs, people soon started drinking it too — even those who are not into sports and have no need for fluid replenishment. Coco water is being perceived as even more beneficial than Gatorade. For one, coco water is natural and this jibes with the current global preference for things that are natural.

This growing preference for a natural drink allows coco water to eat into the big soft drink market. Thus, it’s not surprising that Pepsi Co has plunged into coco water. This is their way of expanding their market and providing a substitute for those shifting from Pepsi Cola.

Just what exactly are the nutrient values that are found in coco water? The USDA listed the nutrient values of coco water, as follows:

Coconut water (Cocus nucifera), Fresh,
Nutrition Value per 100 g
(Source: USDA National Nutrient database)

Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 19 Kcal 1%
Carbohydrates 3.71 g 3%
Protein 0.72 g 1.5%
Total Fat 0.20 g 1%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 1.1 g 3%
Folates 3 mcg 0.75%
Niacin 0.080 mg 0.5%
Pantothenic acid 0.043 mg <1%
Pyridoxine 0.032 mg 2.5%
Riboflavin 0.057 mg 4%
Thiamin 0.030 mg 2.5%
Vitamin C 2.4 mg 4%
Vitamin A 0 IU 0%
Vitamin E 0 mg 0%
Vitamin K 0 mcg 0%
Sodium 105 mg 7%
Potassium 250 mg 5%
Calcium 24 mg 2.4%
Copper 40 mcg 4.5%
Iron 0.29 mg 3.5%
Magnesium 25 mg 6%
Manganese 0.142 mg %
Zinc 0.10 mg 1%
Auxin (Gibberlin) Present --
Carotene, beta 0 mcg --
Cytokines Present --
Lutein-zeaxanthin 0 mcg --
Leucoanthocyanin Present --

India is said to produce 13 billion coconuts annually and claims to have a 3,000-year-old tradition with coconut cultivation. Indian coco water producers claim that the drink provides the following health benefits:

• Low in Carbohydrates

• Low in Fat 99% Fat Free

• Low in natural occurring sugar

• Keeps the body cool and at the proper temperature.

• Effective in the treatment of kidney and urethral stones.

• Natural drink for feeding infants suffering from intestinal disturbances.

• Excellent oral re-hydration medium, an all natural isotonic for all ages.

• Presence of saline and albumen makes it an excellent drink in cholera cases.

• Maintains the human body’s natural fluid levels.

• Aids in the quick absorption of drugs and makes their peak concentration into the blood stream easier because of its electrolytic effect.

• Found as a blood plasma substitute because it is sterile, does not produce heat, and does not destroy red blood cells and is readily accepted by the body.

• Kills intestinal worms.

• Excellent all natural water to drink while Relaxing, Meditating, Driving, Eating, Running, Aerobics, Working, Skiing, Mountain Biking, Exercising, Body Building, Surfing, Fishing, Snow Boarding, Working Out, Surfing, Physical Activities, or Exertion of any kind.

• Aid the body in fighting viruses that cause the flu, herpes, and AIDS

• Helps prevent osteoporosis

• Helps control diabetes

• Promotes bowel movements

• Promotes healthy thyroid function

• Helps eliminate pinworms

• Used in cancer therapy

• Helps kill the parasite Giardia Lamblia

• Improves digestion

• Provides quick energy

• Relieves stress on pancreas and enzyme systems of the body

• Helps in gallbladder disease

• Helps eliminate Candida yeast infections

• Inhibits the growth of mycoplasma

• Helps eradicate eczema

• Helps keep skin soft and smooth

Now, we have no way to ascertain if all these claimed health benefits from coco water are true. These could have been from anecdotal sources, not yet scientifically established, or simply the usual exaggeration of product benefits those manufacturers and marketing minds are occasionally prone to make just to clinch the lucrative deal. However, if only a third of all these health benefits are true and verifiable — then the future of coco water must be really bright.

Another coco water supplier from India even went as far as claim that the drink improves sexual performance. Now that there is an altogether different market — other than being a healthy beverage — that can be tapped. Move over Viagra and Cialis.

Filipino entrepreneurs should pick up the cue and consider plunging into this developing market for coco water. Why should we be reliant on multinationals to package and market these for us Filipinos? We should not just be raw material suppliers but manufacturers as well. We have the production capability and marketing skills to promote value added products from Philippine produce.

A most exciting feature of this coco water developing market is that it will bring economic activity and prosperity to the countryside.

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