THERE is a need to push for the expansion of the country’s coconut sugar industry given its economic and health benefits, a lawmaker said.
Deputy Speaker Sharon Garin of AAMBIS-OWA party-list, in a statement, said crafting measures that will promote the proliferation of coconut sugar industry and improve its export performance is needed.
“It is high time that we give our hardworking farmers and agri-business owners the support they need to drive the coco sugar industry forward," Garin said.
Aside from its high nutritional value, coco sugar has rising export demand and is exempted from additional excise tax on sweetened products.
Local consumers and agri-business owners are urged to reap the health and economic benefits of coconut sugar.
Garin was a member of the bicameral conference committee on Republic Act 10963 or the Tax Reform, Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) Law.
To protect its growing industry, Garin said exemption of coconut sugar-sweetened beverages from excise tax is a boost.
Under the Train, an excise tax of P6 per liter of volume capacity for sweetened beverages using purely caloric sweeteners and purely non-caloric sweeteners, or a mix of both is imposed.
A provision in the measure, however, excludes sweetened beverages using purely coconut sap sugar and purely steviol glycosides (stevia).
The statement cited the findings of Food Product Development Division of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) that coco sugar has a glycemic index (GI) of 35, which is classified as low.
This makes coconut sugar a good alternative for those who are susceptible to diabetes, it said.
Compared to table and muscovado sugars, the PCA said coconut sugar is also richer in major nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, chloride, zinc, and iron.
Those produced in the Philippines is also considered to be of superior quality as it does not use sodium metabisulfate in the processing, it added.
Citing the Value Chain Analysis published by the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP), Garin reported that the country remains to be the top producer of coconut sugar in the world with a share of 52 percent.
Out of the coconut sugar producers in the country, about 86 percent are based in Mindanao.
Philippine-produced coconut sugar is exported to South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, United States, Canada and France, with Europe and the Middle East identified as emerging markets, Garin said.
As of May 2017, the European Union has become the second largest export market with $901.24 million worth of products exported from the Philippines.
“With the EU granting the Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus status to the Philippine in December 2014 and its market’s high demand for coconut products, better export performance is expected to follow,” she added.