MARKET for fresh coconut water is considered to be one of the biggest game changer of the coconut industry and must be further tapped, said a Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) official.

"A little over 10 years ago, fresh coconut water became a popular beverage. The taste for coconut water picked up so fast that the global market grown. Over the last five years alone, the total global world market grew by about 400 percent to $20.2 billion in 2016 from $530 million in 2011," PCA administrator Romulo dela Rosa said during the 2nd International Coconut Conference opening held at the SMX Convention Center yesterday, November 7, 2017.

Dela Rosa further noted that since the industry has been dependent on the production of coconut oil, somehow the situation of the industry is dictated by the coconut oil market. He said coconut farmers should develop more coconut by-products and expand to a wider market to reduce the risk of the industry's vulnerability.

However, one of the challenges that the coconut water production industry faces is the lack of proper branding as it is with other coconut by-products.

According to Department of Trade and Industry 11 regional director Belinda Ambi, it is quite difficult for smaller enterprises to sustain production of coconut water as it demands greater knowledge of technology which costs a lot. Currently, the only coconut water producer in Davao Region, said Ambi, is the Franklin Baker. As there reach is worldwide, coconut water produced by Franklin Baker are mostly exported to the United States and Singapore.

"There had been attempts by smaller enterprises but it was difficult to sustain. The technology should be appropriate to retain the quality of coco water because it ferments easily," Ambi said adding the best assistance they provide these huge companies is to connect them with local farmer partners and other source of raw materials for their production.