Filipino companies pressed to pursue trade certification to seize Europe, organic market valued at $49.4 billion

un sustainable development goals
Filipino companies pressed to pursue trade certification to seize Europe, organic market valued at $49.4 billion
January 29, 2019

Filipino companies were pressed to pursue trade certifications for coconut products to raise export earnings especially from organic food valued at $49.4 billion and will grow by 30-40% in 5 years due to countries’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Organic food products continue to grow with $3.5 billion in new sales in 2017 from the previous year. It now accounts for more than 5% of total food sales in the US.

”Consumption of organic food in the US grew by 6.4%. That’s 30-40 percent increase in consumption in 5 years. That’s not too far from now. And imagine the increase in demand in terms of volume. And somebody has to supply,” said Sanjaya K. Pathirage, Control Union regional manager.

The Organic Trade Association reported that even sales of non-organic food products increased by 7.4% in 2017.

Agreement on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) signed by the United Nations’ 193 member-states is one of the major factors that will drive future market growth.

Giant companies Procter & Gamble, BASF, and Cargill have already collaborated on the production of sustainable certified coconut oil in the PhIlippines and Indonesia.

Under this German government-initiated program, companies are involving more than 10,000 farmers into their entire supply chain to help uplift farmers’ lives.

“They implement actions the world will agree on. It’s not just 193 member states, but the private sector committed to it,” said Pathirage.

For one, Unilever already integrated 15 sustainable goals into their entire overall strategic plan. It will bring health benefits to more than 1 billion people, reducing products’ adverse environmental impact while it taps the talent of 160,000 people.

“Global warming is real, glaciers are melting– Europe is hitting 40 degrees. People are complaining. These changes are interesting. It will change the way we do business,” he said.
Control Union, a global network of independent service companies, noted trade certifications will create important income from value added for coconut products.

Added profit

“If you can meet requirements of your customers, you may also add value to your product
A certification program as ISO 9001 is used to implement quality system,” said Pathirage.

“Nobody will pay you a high price because you have ISO 9001. But having a quality management system will enable you to optimize capacity to improve efficiency.”

ISO 9001 improves quality on a management’s seven aspects—customer focus, leadership, engagement of people, process approach, improvement, evidence-based decision making, relationship management.

Obtaining quality management certification brings added profit as it cuts costs.
“When you lack a quality system, you have to add a lot of cost to rectify issues of quality. (You need to) optimize quality management against cost of failure.”

Land consolidation

In a farm production, obtaining a trade certification for a small 2-hectare land may not make sense to generate improved income with cost equivalent to $250 per hectare, according to a Control Union study.

But consolidating land into a bigger 500 hectares will significantly cut certification cost down to a minimal $10 per hectare.

A cost-benefit study on virgin coconut oil (VCO) showed that certification cost for 2 hectares will bring $310 decrease in profit. However, a consolidated land of 10,000 hectares will generate VCO value of $18.673 million and increased profit of $868,550.

Certification Schemes

Ämong profit-increasing certification schemes Filipino companies may comply with are Global Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) and ISO 22,000.

“ISO 22000 is a food safety tool. Organic is increasing value. It helps increase volume of sales profitability and pricing. It helps you build topline. Fairtrade USA has now recognized coconut as product within their scheme, and they’re working towards improving it.”

Rainforest Alliance is GAP with focus on environmental sustainability and support for host farming communities. There are several other certification schemes for food safety – ISO 22,000, HACCP, IFS, GMP Plus and for occupational safety, OHSAS.

There are certification schemes for carbon foot printing, water foot printing, and food safety for certain religious groups, (Halal, Kosher). ISO 26,000 is related to Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR.


Transparency and reporting are also now a part of compliance to sustainability, community support, and related SDG goals.
Global Reporting Iniative (GRI) was first started by accounting firm Lloyds and Pryce Waterhouse.

“They used it as assurance tool, and we players moved into it. There are different assurance standards that companies got involved in. Singapore Exchange has mandated to people who are trading to either report or explain their sustainability related commitments.”

Malaysia, Indonesia, Hongkong followed suit with a mandate to public listed companies to communicate environmental-sustainability footprints.

Legal requirements

Legal compliance in specific countries will also help companies access organic markets.

“There are legal constraints regarding marketing of organic products like it can’t enter Europe or America, so a legal framework in a geographical area becomes an important factor.”

Millennials, technology

The growth of the millennial generation and technology will also drive increased organic market.

“The way millennials make choices have changed a lot. The way they look at the world. The value they perceive is very different from previous generations. They want to make responsible decisions to make betterment of the planet.
Through internet and related technologies, the coconut craze has fast spread with reports of its good health benefits.

“This will change the way we interact with anything, with food, with whatever we consume. It will drive consumerism in a whole new level. Today before enjoying your meal, you put it on Facebook. It has given a different dimension on choices. I’m more interested now on how my friends are living their lives,” said Pathirage.

Facebook, Instagram, search engines, big data-small data enabled delivery of information different way or on a personal basis.

”It creates a personal experience right in front of you. Your choice is driven by these very unique special techniques that they use in marketing.” End (Growth Publishing for UCAP)

1. UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
2. Unilever Strategic Plan
3. VCO Cost-Benefit

vco certification cost benefit

Ph leads with Rockefeller University in pioneering clinical research on VCO anti-inflammatory property

Dr. Vermen M. Verallo-Rowell
Ph leads with Rockefeller University in pioneering clinical research on VCO anti-inflammatory property
December 23, 2018

The Philippines is leading a pioneering evidence-based research on the anti-inflammatory property of virgin coconut oil (VCO) together with Rockefeller University.
The study is envisioned to be a multinational program. It is expanding earlier research proving VCO’s potential to be a medically-proven treatment for inflammation.
“We’ll get help from India. They have dermatologists. They are very good in research. Thailand, Singapore maybe, Indonesia definitely I can get their residents and anywhere-else so that we have validity in numbers so we can now have multinational studies,” said Dr. Vermen M. Verallo-Rowell, entrepreneurial founder of VMV Hypoallergenics.
Research such as this, much as other clinical researches pursued by VMV Skin Research Centre Clinics (VMV-SKRC), will make VCO more recognized as a medical treatment, according to Rowell.
“The best evidence studies that we doctors do is what we call randomized clinical trials,” said Rowell in “Interactive Lecture on Lauric Monoglyceride in Dermatology Application.”
The Philippines has introduced VCO to the world in 2000-2001 and remains to be world’s number one VCO exporter. But scientific researches, sought for by opinion-maker doctors and consumers alike, should establish this leadership.
The other types of evidence-based research that medical experts recognize as the best evidence-type are called “double blinded randomized clinical trials” and “meta analysis,” a review/analysis of many researches.
VMV-SKRC is completing a research on VCO’s anti-inflammatory trait that just proved VCO is far more anti-inflammatory compared to corn oil.
In September 2016, VMV-SKRC made public its “Anti Inflammatory Diet Study” on VCO and corn oil. It was funded by the government-run Philippine Institute of Traditional Health Care (PITAHC) and was carried out in collaboration with Rockefeller University-New York.
It chose corn oil to represent long chain fatty acids and coconut oil for medium chain fatty acids. It aimed to study the oils when taken internally by patients as part of food.
One set of patients took coconut oil as part of diet, and the other set took corn oil. It is a double-blinded type of clinical trial where neither the researchers nor the patients know what type of food they are taking.
“We got regional biopsies at the beginning of the study and non regional for control.
I was stunned –when we finally opened it. The amazing thing about coconut oil is that it is so much more anti inflammatory than corn oil,” Rowell said.
Rockefeller University is also carrying out genetic studies called RNA sequencing of these two sets of patients.
Proving the anti-inflammatory quality of VCO may have numerous applications in medical treatment.
“Inflammation is the key of mechanism where diseases whether it’s in the skin or psoriasis, or dermatology or even acne. All of that is given by inflammation. That same inflammation inside the body –diabetes, Alzheimer’s, depression, and others,” Rowell said.
VMV has already been using coconut oil as treatment for psoriasis and other skin diseases as a far more effective cure than other treatments. For skin asthma or “hika ng balat,” coconut oil proved to be an excellent cure.
“Coconut oil practically eradicated it. Olive oil is able to do it up to 50%.”
What is good about coconut oil is it has clinical or biological mechanism of action in treatment rather than enzymatic which is how antibiotics work in the body—going against enzymes’ action.
“Coconut oil is different. It’s medium chain, and as such carbon chain penetrates through the wall in the cell membrane.”
Besides, it has very light molecular weight of 256, compared to olive oil, 857 and sunflower oil, 876. The big fatty acids cannot penetrate into the skin.
VMV-SKRC’s clinical researches on such skin treatment substantiated its claims. Verallo herself has published more than 150 articles in dermatology scientific journals.
However, she stressed the Philippines has to do more clinical trials on VCO.
“The world is watching and reading people that are evidence-based, she said.
“In the Philippines, if we are to produce more understanding by the world that coconut oil is really quite safe internally and with food, we need to convince the doctors, the academics because they are after all the opinion leaders. They are the ones who told the rest of the world that coconut oil back in the 50s, 60s and onwards was not good for the diet.” End (Growth Publishing for United Coconut Associations of the Philippines)