Philippines' coconut oil exports up 24.5% in Nov; El Nino worry eases

MANILA: Coconut oil exports by the Philippines jumped almost a quarter from a year ago to 69,729 tonnes last month, industry data showed, putting the world’s top supplier of the commodity on track to meet this year’s forecast for overseas shipments.

The United Coconut Associations of the Philippines (UCAP) had in March pegged 2015 coconut oil exports at 804,000 tonnes, but a crop-damaging El Nino later in the year stoked worries about supply.

Recent rains have, however, eased concerns stemming from dryness linked to the weather pattern. Preliminary UCAP data on Monday showed coconut oil exports totalled 69,729 tonnes in November versus 56,017 tonnes a year ago, after three months of declines.

This brings shipments over the 11 months to November to 782,531 tonnes, down 5.6 percent. Jesus Arranza, president of the Coconut Oil Refiners Association, said he remained optimistic UCAP’s full-year export forecast would be met. “I think that’s still achievable. December last year we shipped more than 32,000 tonnes,” he said.

Exports of 804,000 tonnes would be above 794,000 tonnes shipped in 2014, but lower than a 2009-2013 annual average of 990,000 tonnes before Typhoon Haiyan – one of the strongest storms to make landfall ever – uprooted millions of coconut trees in central Philippines in November 2013.

Arranza said the country could export a bigger volume next year. “The El Nino impact on coconut production next year may not be as serious as we had anticipated after the strong rains in recent weeks, which could help improve yields,” he told Reuters.

He declined to give a forecast for 2016 exports. Coconut oil, the Southeast Asian nation’s top agricultural export used in food, detergents and biofuels, is shipped mainly to Europe and the United States and traded on the European vegetable oil market.

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