DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 31 August) – A Japanese firm is looking to expand its sources of raw materials in Mindanao for their coconut-based food products.
Yu Mizui, who runs the Osaka-based company Cocowell, said his firm is looking for other potential sources of coconut-based food products as well as coconut handicrafts in different parts of Mindanao.
For nearly 20 years now, Cocowell has been working with Filipino coconut farmers with a mission to increase the value of their coconut products as well as their income.
Cocowell is producing and selling coconut-based products and health products such as virgin coconut oils, coconut sugar, coconut ice cream, premium coconut oils, coco curry, coconut milk powder, vegan cheesecake, coco soap, coco lip balm and even lambanog (distilled coconut liquor).
Currently, Mizui said he is working with at least 12 coconut farmer groups in the country, three of them in Mindanao.
Mizui bared that they are in need of bulk suppliers of aseptic coconut cream for their ice cream products.
“We are planning to sell wholesale our ice cream products. Thus, we need more supply of aseptic coconut cream,” Mizui said.
One of Mizui’s sources of aseptic coconut cream is the Roxas Sigma Agriventures in Tupi, South Cotabato.
It is the same company that supplies Cocowell with coconut milk, he said.
Cocowell runs a shop in Osaka called “Sari-sari Store,” which he fashioned from the small neighborhood sundry stores in the Philippines.
His store features a variety of coconut-based products.
He noted that coconut ice cream is one of the most saleable food products in his store.
All the sweet food products, Mizui said, are sweetened by organic coco sugar imported from different coconut farmers in the Philippines.
One of its suppliers of organic coco sugar is Health Sweets, a certified organic coco sugar producer based in Panabo City, Davao del Norte.
Cocowell sources virgin coconut oils from ProSource International in Quezon Province.
Aside from coconut-based food products, Mizui said that they are also interested in importing handicrafts made out of coconut.
Over the weekend, he visited a handicraft maker, Eric Ticar, in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato to request for chopsticks made of coconut trunks.
The Japanese entrepreneur said that he had learned about Ticar’s products through the Philippine Coconut Authority.
“In 2014, we used to import chopsticks produced in Leyte. However, the production was halted due to logistical problems,” Mizui recalled.
He added that many of his customers continue to look for coconut chopsticks. “Besides, we are using chopsticks every day. That is why I’m interested in reviving the chopstick products.”
The Japanese entrepreneur has requested Ticar to produce a few samples of chopsticks first and then they will evaluate in Japan before closing the deal.
He also visited a hinterland village in Kapalong, Davao del Norte to check the food trays made of coconut midribs.
Mizui, who has studied a short course on environmental science in Benguet back in 2002, said he wanted to help Filipino farmers by adding value to their coconut products.
It was during his time as a student in the Philippines when he discovered the potentials of coconut.
Mizui believed that coconut farming could help alleviate Filipino farmers from poverty.
Thus, he founded Cocowell in 2004, with a goal to pursue the “infinite possibilities of coconut.”
Mizui is currently in the country for the three-day World Coconut Congress, which will culminate on September 1 in Pasay City.
He added that he still wanted to learn more about coconut in the congress, as well as to establish new networks. (MindaNews)