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Coconut Value Chain Development in ACMECS

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Coconut is an important economic crop for Thailand and neighboring countries. It is a native plant that people traditionally grow and consume daily. The increasing global market demand, driven by climate change leading to the rising popularity of coconut water, has contributed to this significance. Additionally, coconut oil is considered a vital healthy alternative. These demand factors have resulted in an increased consumption of coconuts.

In 2024, the coconut industry in the ACMECS member countries, including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam, has experienced significant growth and changes. The region’s coconut products include coconut water, coconut oil, and dried coconut meat. Viet Nam and Thailand continue to lead in the production and export of coconut products, while Cambodia and Laos are developing their domestic coconut industries to compete in the global market.

Thailand remains a major center for coconut processing in the region, with expertise in producing high-quality coconut water and coconut oil. The focus is on adding value to coconut products to meet the market demand for natural and high-quality products. Thailand’s key export markets include China, the United States, Japan, and the European Union. Some years, Thailand imports coconuts from ASEAN member countries, including Indonesia and Viet Nam.

Viet Nam emphasizes investing in technology and research to improve coconut production and processing. This has significantly increased efficiency and reduced production costs. Additionally, there is a promotion of the use of various parts of the coconut, such as using coconut fibers in the textile and construction materials industries.

Overall, the coconut value chain in the ACMECS subregion has grown with significant potential. However, the coconut industry still faces several challenges, such as climate change affecting coconut cultivation, a shortage of skilled labor, and intense competition in the global market. Therefore, developing innovation and technology is crucial to strengthening the coconut industry.

In developing the coconut value chain, the key development issues requiring collaboration include investment in technology and research, promoting sustainable cultivation, developing human resources, enhancing cooperation among member countries, and adding value to products. From the ACMECS member countries’ meeting, supported by the Republic of Korea government and held from May 27-29, 2024, in Myanmar, the presentations from all countries reflected a commitment to developing the coconut supply chain to become a significant export commodity for the region.

In the case of Thailand, neighboring countries are interested in the advancements in upstream research on coconut breeding to maintain product quality. The utilization of coconut products follows the BCG (Bio-Circular-Green) Economy concept, which aims to add value and reduce waste. Additionally, there is a shift towards chemical-free cultivation, aligning with the new consumer demand trends in the U.S. and European markets.

Therefore, encouraging coconut industry entrepreneurs to expand their investments into neighboring countries by leveraging their knowledge and experience in managing the coconut value chain for production and export beyond the region presents a significant opportunity for Thai entrepreneurs.

Mr. Wimon Punkong
Deputy Executive Director (Academic)
International Institute for Trade and Development (Public Organization)
Publication: Bangkok BIZ Newspaper
Section: First Section/World Beat
Volume: 37 Issue: 12656
Date: Wednesday, June 5, 2024
Page: 8 (left)
Column: “Asean Insight”

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