Let’s give coffee a break (First of Two Parts)-A A +A
Monday, September 30, 2013
"COFFEE has a large market in the Philippines." That was what Arthur Yap said when he was still the head of the Department of Agriculture.
Currently, the Philippines has a P21-billion coffee market and consumes 65,000 metric tons of coffee. The market will reach to about P40-billion mark - if the country achieves self-sufficiency in coffee production by 2015.
In the 1990s, the Philippines produced almost all the coffee supplied in the local market. However, the price of coffee plummeted causing farmers to shift to other crops, particularly to high value crops like banana and pineapple. As a result, the country has to import from other countries.
"The government and the private sector are both making efforts to increase local coffee production, in order to reduce the reliance on imports," Euromonitor International reports. "In 2012, however, local production in the Philippines still did not meet coffee demand in the country. The country imports the rest of its coffee requirements from Vietnam, Indonesia and other Asian countries."
All over the country, coffee shops are sprouting like mushrooms. Figaro Coffee Company, the largest domestic coffee shop, has reportedly 30 outlets, including two in Baguio and one in Davao. With one overseas outlet in Hong Kong, Figaro is now planning to open up stores in China, India, Dubai and Thailand.
Starbucks, the first international coffee chain to penetrate the Philippine market, has had a powerful impact on the country's coffee drinking habits. Through it local licensee, Starbucks now operates about 55 outlets throughout the country.
Following suit are numerous local and international players. Two US-based specialty coffee shops - Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Gloria Jean's Coffee - have just opened in Metro Manila. McDonald's Corporation also joined the coffee retail business by launching McCafe. Other foreign retail outlets in the country include Segafredo Zenetti from Italy and the Japanese Ueshima Coffee Company.
Coffee has been a favorite drink among Filipinos because it is considered the morning savior and dispenser of energy - the reason why many office workers are able to get through the first parts of their weekdays without looking like zombies.
But studies show that those drinking coffee may be benefitting from more than just the energy-boosting caffeine in coffee - they might also be reaping its cancer-preventing and depression-lowering effects, just to name a couple.
"There is certainly much more good news than bad news, in terms of coffee and health," says Dr. Frank Hu, nutrition and epidemiology professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.
A growing body of research shows that coffee drinkers, compared to nondrinkers, are less likely to have type 2 diabetes. Although those with this most common form of the debilitating disease don't need insulin injections, about 25 percent of them take drugs to improve sugar metabolism.
Data on coffee and type 2 diabetes is "pretty solid," based on more than 15 published studies. "The vast majority of those studies have shown a benefit of coffee on the prevention of diabetes. And now, there is also evidence that decaffeinated coffee may have the same benefit as regular coffee," Dr. Hu was quoted as saying by WebMD.
In 2005, Dr. Hu's team reviewed nine studies on coffee and type 2 diabetes. Of more than 193,000 people, those who said they drank more than six or seven cups daily were 35 percent less likely to have type 2 diabetes than people who drank fewer than two cups daily. There was a smaller perk - a 28 percent lower risk - for people who drank 4-6 cups a day.
So how does coffee keep diabetes at bay? "It's the whole package," Dr. Hu claims. He points to antioxidants - nutrients that help prevent tissue damage caused by molecules called oxygen-free radicals. "We know that coffee has a very strong antioxidant capacity," he said.
Coffee also contains minerals such as magnesium and chromium, which help the body use the hormone insulin, which controls blood sugar (glucose). In type 2 diabetes, the body loses its ability to use insulin and regulate blood sugar effectively. (To be concluded)
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on October 01, 2013.