Philippine coco industry has sufficient VCO capacity to fight COVID-19

Published December 9, 2020, 6:00 AM

by James A. Loyola

The Philippine coconut industry has more than enough untapped capacity to meet the anticipated growth in demand for virgin coconut oil (VCO) which has shown to significantly reduce COVID-19 symptoms in tests.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) revealed recently that VCO significantly decreased symptoms in suspected and probable Covid-19 cases in as early as the second day of testing.

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Groups like United Coconut Associations of the Philippines and VCO Producers and Traders Association of the Philippines are now encouraging government agencies like the health department to support and promote Covid-19 natural alternative options.

UCAP Executive Director Yvonne Agustin explained that, “coconut oils and the inherent medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) properties in it have long been recognized for their antiviral action.”

She noted that, “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.”

The Philippines still has more than enough supply of VCO even considering that there is a noted increase in demand during this pandemic. 

UCAP and VCO Philippines data reveal that only 30 percent of the current 73,000 metric ton capacity is being utilized. Local sales and export of VCO notched north of 20,000 metric tons in 2019.

The current local market consumes about 470 metric tons of VCO as of 2019 data. With renewed public interest in VCO, MCT and other coconut oils’ alternative health benefits, stakeholders are seeing a 20 percent growth in the demand by 2021.

However, Philippine Coconut Authority Administrator Benjamin Madrigal warned the public that unscrupulous manufacturers might ride on the current popularity of VCO and other coconut oils by producing bootleg or substandard products. The PCA is encouraging consumers to buy only FDA-approved VCO brands.

Agustin lauded the DOST’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute result as positive proof to these claims.   

A total of 58 quarantined patients, divided into two groups, were chosen to participate in the 28-day trial conducted by the FNRI at the Sta. Rosa Community Hospital in Laguna.

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.

Ateneo de Manila Science Professor Emeritus Dr. Toby Dayrit, who helped craft the VCO testing protocol, clarified that VCO is not the Covid-19 silver bullet. Like Agustin, he states that it should be taken as a supplement.

Dayrit explained that “VCO is a functional food, people should take it as a vitamin, not a drug, and while taking it, they should still follow the same safety protocols.” According to VCO Philippines President Marco Reyes, VCO is an age old daily diet not only of Filipinos, but in other tropical countries in Asia, the Caribbean and Pacific Islands and Africa.