US company eyes coco products from PH
Sysco, major food service firm based in Houston, Texas, is in talks with local firms such as publicly listed AgriNurture Inc. (ANI) on the possible supply of coconut water and related products, according to officials of ANI and the Department of Trade and Industry.
ANI chair and CEO Antonio L. Tiu said in a phone interview that Sysco representatives had visited the facilities of ANI and were interested in coconut water and coconut milk produced at its plant in Carmelray Industrial Park in Laguna.
If exports via Sysco push through, the deal will enable ANI to expand the presence of its “La Natural” to the food service industry (hotels, restaurants, and catering services).
“La Natural” is the brand of coconut products that are being shipped directly to the United States.
ANI is also a supplier of coconut products marketed in the US under the “VitaCoco” brand.
The US shipments via Sysco, which may kick off this year, will enable ANI to use the full capacity of its Carmelray facility.
ANI’s plant is capable of producing 3 million liters of coconut water and another 3 million liters of coconut milk per month. Current production takes up only about 50 percent of capacity.
“We need to figure out where the market is in the US. We have to talk to our companies in those areas (e.g., Los Angeles, New York and Miami) if they can identify the restaurants to sell these products.”
Sysco senior director-International John M. Pollock during the recent International Food Exhibition (Ifex) Philippines.
Pollock said Sysco was also interested in other coconut products and tropical fruit juices, especially calamansi. As part of their Ifex itinerary, Pollock together with Sysco import manager Howard Cai visited the facilities of ANI, Atson Coco Inc. and Franklin Baker.
Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Los Angeles (PTIC-LA) Trade Representative Archimedes C. Gomez said the market for coconut water in the US was a “niche market” for health-conscious consumers. The PTIC-LA is one of the trade and investment promotions agencies of the DTI that promote the Philippine trade and investment interests in the US.
Studies in the US show that there is an emerging market worth about $400 million to $800 million for coconut water alone. At present, coconut water in the US is not only consumed as pure coconut water but it is also used as water for coffee and mix for chasers.
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