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Philippines coconut oil exports drops 54%

Staff writer |
Coconut oil exports plunged 54 percent from 379,470 metric tons to 174,210 metric tons during the first quarter of the year due to shortage of nuts.

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United Coconut Association of the Philippines (UCAP) executive director Yvonne Agustin said delivery of copra to mills nationwide were scant due to the massive destruction caused by typhoon Yolanda in major coconut producing areas. She estimated that about 10 percent of the country's total coconut trees have been destroyed.

UCAP believes that the poor first quarter performance is only the beginning as the impact of Yolanda to the coconut oil industry is expected to be felt by the country in the next four years.

The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) earlier reported that more than 34 million trees of the total 340 million coconut trees in the country have been brought down by the super typhoon in the Visayas region.

For the month of March alone, Ms. Agustin said exports stood at 59,950 MT, down by 61.9 percent from 157,170 MT in the same month last year. Coconut oil shipments already saw a year-on-year decline of 46.4 percent and 18 percent in January and February, respectively.

"It's a good thing that prices of palm kernel oil was able to catch up faster in March. A wider gap in the prices may result to buyers shifting to palm kernel oil, which is a cheaper alternative," Ms. Agustin said.

Average international coconut oil prices during the quarter stood at $1,389 per MT, slightly higher than the price of palm kernel oil at $1,378 per MT.

UCAP expects coconut oil exports to reach about 850,000 MT for this year, lower than the 1.1 million MT actual shipments made last year.

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