SANTA CRUZ, Davao del Sur—The world’s leading supplier of desiccated coconut products opened up on Thursday its third plant in this town to increase its production volume to 1.4 million tons, with potential to expand six fold, and asserting its dominance over many coconut-based or laced products.


The integrated coconut-processing plant of Franklin Baker Inc. is within the same town as its second plant established in 1968, but comfortably sprawls within the Philippine export zone authority-certified 15 hectares in Barangay Darong, which Franklin Baker also acquired.


Former Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Garrucho, who sat as vice chairman of the board, said the new plant was purchased in 2014 from the original plant established by a Korean company. The plant and the entire 15-hectare PEZA area was worth P1.7 billion.


Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol graced the opening of the plant, where he also met former Agriculture Secretaries Senen Bacani, who sat as chairman of the board, and Luis Ramon Lorenzo, who was visiting the plant to see another, Jerome, the president and CEO of the company. The new plant has a capacity of desiccating 200 metric tons of coconuts daily, and plant General Manager Ronaldo M. Santos said it has a capacity to expand six times more from this current operation. Garrucho said the third plant would further fortify its supply domination in the US and Europe for products with by-products from desiccated coconut of food brands, such as Nestlé, Kellogg, Hersheys and Kraft.


Franklin Baker Inc. produces the granulated and special cuts of desiccated coconuts, the golden toasted and tender fresh sweetened desiccated coconuts, the coconut concentrate, the creamed coconut, coconut chips, coconut flour, organic coconut sugar and virgin coconut oil.


From this plant, Franklin Baker Inc. would also launch by April its new products—coconut-water and its two other plants in Coronon in this town and in San Pablo, Laguna, would produce the coconut water concentrate. Garrucho said the volume of its coconut water and its concentrate would be equivalent to 30 percent of the 1.4 million tons the three plants would process daily. This would be equivalent to 420,000 tons and would be packaged in tetra packs, for its minimum retail size pack, and up to 1 liter.


The coconut water and concentrate would be shipped to the US, where a tetra-sized pack would fetch between $3 and $7.


The company sources out its coconut-fruit materials from many Mindanao provinces, including Davao Oriental, the known “coconut country” of the Philippines.

By Manuel Cayon


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