The United Coconut Associations of Philippines (UCAP) said the coconut industry is in a viable position to capitalize on recent developments that showed virgin coconut oil (VC) is a viable supplement in treating the new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Given the current utilization rate of coconut oil produce in the country, UCAP said the country has more than enough raw materials to provide “natural alternative options” to treat COVID-19.
This follows after the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) recently revealed that VCO significantly decreased symptoms in suspected and probable COVID-19 cases in as early as the second day of testing.
In the study, 58 quarantined patients divided into two groups were chosen to participate in the 28-day trial conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) at the Sta. Rosa Community Hospital in Laguna.
The first group was served with controlled VCO diet while the second group were given normal food. Among the symptoms monitored from the participants were cough, colds, fever, body pain, headache and loss of taste.
DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said they noted significant reduction in the C-Reactive Protein (CRP) or level of inflammation among the patients given VCO in as early as the second day of tests.
Yvonne Agustin, UCAP executive director, said “coconut oils and the inherent multi-chain triglyceride (MCT) properties in it have long been recognized for their antiviral action.”
“Many who tested COVID-19 positive have recovered rapidly by incorporating coconut oil into their daily diet while those who are taking it as a supplement have seen their immunity strengthened,” Agustin said.
She added the Philippines “has more than enough supply of VCO.”
UCAP said while there is a noted increase in VCO demand after COVID-19 exploded, Philippines data reveal only 30 percent of the country’s 73,000 metric ton capacity is being utilized. In 2019, VCO sales both locally and for export amounted to 20,000 metric tons.
Coconuts still remain as the Philippines’ leading billion-dollar export earner with yearly revenues north of P2 billion, giving jobs to more than 3.5 million Filipino farmers all over the country.
Agustin said VCO is under the bracket of the consumer-rich food, health and wellness segment that has an estimated $1.8 trillion-dollar market.
The current local market consumes about 470 metric tons of VCO as of 2019 data. Agustin said that with renewed public interest in VCO, and the other coconut oil compound MCT’s alternative health benefits, stakeholders are seeing a 20 percent growth in the demand by 2021.