Filipinos encouraged to enjoy health, economic benefits of coco sugar

Given its high nutritional value, rising export demand, and excise tax exemption on sweetened beverages, Filipino consumers and agri-business owners are encouraged to reap the health and economic benefits of coconut sugar.

Deputy Speaker Sharon Garin of AAMBIS-OWA Party-list was a member of the bicameral conference committee on Republic Act 10963 or the Tax Reform, Acceleration and Inclusion Law (TRAIN). She also championed the exemption of coconut sugar-sweetened beverages from excise tax in order to protect its growing industry.

The law now requires a 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. A provision in the measure excludes sweetened beverages using purely coconut sap sugar and purely steviol glycosides (stevia) from the excise tax.

As an agri-partylist representative, Deputy Speaker Garin is eyeing the expansion of the coconut sugar industry by supporting and crafting measures that will promote its proliferation in the country and improve its export performance.

“It is high time we give our hardworking farmers and agri-business owners the support they need to drive the coco sugar industry forward,” Deputy Speaker Garin said.

Coconut sugar, according to the Food Product Development Division of the Philippine Coconut Authority, has a glycemic index (GI) of 35 and can be classified as Low GI food. This makes coconut sugar a good alternative for those who are susceptible to diabetes.

Compared to table and muscovado sugars, coconut sugar is also richer in major nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, chloride, zinc, and iron. Coconut sugar produced in the Philippines is also considered to be of superior quality because it does not use sodium metabisulfate in the processing.

In terms of export, The Value Chain Analysis published by the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) reveals that the country remains to be the top producer of coconut sugar in the world with a share of 52%. Out of the coconut sugar producers in the country, about 86% 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. As of May 2017, the European Union has become the 2nd largest export market in the country 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 last December 2014 and its market’s high demand for coconut products, better export performance is expected to follow.*