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International Workshop on Quality Standards of Coconut Products

ICC Secretariat conducted the International Workshop on Quality Standard of Coconut Products virtually on the 13rd-14th of July 2021. The main objective of organizing this workshop is to review and compile the national quality standard of various coconut products in ICC member countries and harmonize these national standards and come up with a Regional/ICC standards. The growing local and global market demand have forced the coconut Industries to optimize coconut added-value, thereby reducing poverty and stimulating economic growth. Increasing quality standards is essential to increase product quality, meet customer's expectations, avoid food adulteration, protect consumer's health, enhance global acceptability, increase export revenue, and make an important contribution to long-term revenue and profitability, and maintain higher prices. There were 46 participants including technical experts representatives of ICC member countries, private companies, research institutes like ICAR-CPCRI, CCRI, IAARD, ICAPRD, and industrial products certification institutes.

Dr. Jelfina C. Alouw, Executive Director, ICC, delivered the welcome remarks and rationale of the Workshop. She mentioned that one of the core missions of ICC, in line with the goals of the United Nation for sustainable development, is to help member countries in promoting product diversification and maintaining high product quality standards acceptable to consumers. Recognizing the importance of harmonized quality standards for coconut products, ICC conducted a two-day workshop to help member countries upgrade product quality, access a new market, adapt and comply with international standards. The in-depth technical expert discussions, idea exchanges, and data validation by competent experts would be conducted after the workshop. The standards might be updated regularly and all the standards will be referred to as formal standards released by countries and international standards.

Mr. Farid Hamid, Director General, APEC, and Alternate NLO, Indonesia, on behalf of Mr. Djatmiko Bris Witjaksono, S.E., MSIE, Director General International Trade Organization and NLO, Indonesia, delivered the opening remarks and officially open the workshop. He appreciated ICC for hosting this workshop, and mentioned that as the 'Tree of life', coconut's role is not just as a food, but also used for religious, cultural, and handicraft purposes. The domestic and export of coconut products, and the world's demand is also increasing. He also emphasized the need to harmonize the coconut quality standard. The workshop will generate a quality standard for coconut products that can be used as a benchmark in general agreement and global trade. The Ministry of Trade, Government of Indonesia is committed to limiting the trade barrier of coconut products.

The first day of the workshop had two sessions. The first session began with 'Understanding the Importance of Quality Standard'. The first speaker, Dr. Wahyu Purbowasito, Director of Standards Development for Agro, Chemistry, Health and Halal Secretariat of the Codex Contact Point, The National Standardization Agency of Indonesia, presented 'Codex and International Standard for Coconut Products'. Codex Alimentarius is a collection of international food standards, codes of practice, and guidelines to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in the food trade. Codex has 188 member countries, the Secretariat is at the FAO Headquarters, Rome. He explained the overview of Codex Alimentarius Commission, elaboration of Codex standards, and Codex Standards related to coconut products. Codex having standards for three coconut products.

Dr. C. Anandharamakrishnan, Director, Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT), Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI), Government of India, presented "Glycaemic Index of Coconut and Its Products", in which he explained the changing consumer preferences, health effects of coconut, glycaemic index metabolism process, factors influencing the GI of food products, stomach model, GI of coconut-based products, and the GI of different sweeteners, where the coconut sugar is relatively low.

The second session started with "Country Presentations: National & International Quality Standards for different Coconut Products". Mr. Benjamin A. Madrigal (Jr.), Administrator, Philippine Coconut Authority, Philippines, presented definitions, concepts and principles, legislations & issuances related to standards for agriculture and products, the status of the regulatory system in the Philippines, issues, challenges, and way ahead. The Philippines Nasional Standards (PNS) for food and industrial products was developed by the National Standards Body (NSB) and Standards Development Organizations (SDOs). There are 17 existing PNS for Coconut and Coconut Products. He commended ICC for coming up with this workshop.

Mrs. Deepthi S. Nair, Deputy Director (Marketing), Coconut Development Board of India presented the different standardizations bodies of India, namely Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), Indian Standards by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), Agricultural Produce Grading and Marketing Act (AGMARK), National Standards for Organic Production (NSO), and Ecomark, with their standards, regulations, roles, activities, and processes. Having these standard bodies, India has the most standards for coconut products (19 products). In her presentation, she explained the comparison of 22 product standards according to BIS, FSSAI, ICC, and CODEX.

Mr. Nguyen Hoang Linh, Deputy Director-General, Directorate for Standards, Metrology, and Quality, Ministry of Science and Technology, Vietnam, presented general information about coconut in the world and Vietnam, system of national standards for coconut and coconut products of Vietnam, Orientation and solutions to complete the national standard system. Vietnam has 6 coconut product standards.

Dr. Chandi Yalegama, Head Coconut Processing Division, Coconut Research Institute, Sri Lanka presented national quality standards for different coconut products followed in Sri Lanka, in which she described the standards and regulations, the regulatory body of coconut products in Sri Lanka, standards specifications, specifications for different products, such as coconut oil, VCO, coconut oil, desiccated coconut, aqueous coconut products, oil cakes, coconut meal, coconut flour, and shell charcoal. Sri Lanka has developed standards for 16 coconut products.

Mrs. Supattra Lertwattanakait, Senior Fruit Expert, Horticulture Research Institute, Thailand presented the Standards developed in Thailand for the different coconut products, and the agencies involved. Thailand has developed so far standards for 9 coconut products.

Mrs. Cheryl Lewis, Technical Officer, Specifications Development Quality Control & Certification, Barbados, National Standards Institution, presented "Quality Standard for Coconut Products developed by CARICOM". She mentioned that Regional Technical Sub Committee (RTSC) comprises representatives of nine member states: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, Suriname, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Guyana, and Trinidad & Tobago. The CARICOM Specification is now developing the standard for packaged natural coconut water and which is in the draft stage. The Code of Practice contains standards from upstream to downstream, from harvesting, transportation, storage, processing, packaging, QC, to waste disposal.

Dr. Aida Hamimi Ibrahim, Deputy Director, Enzyme and Fermentation Program, Science and Food Technology Research Centre, Malaysia Agriculture Research and Development Institute (MARDI), Malaysia, presented national and international quality standards for different coconut products followed in Malaysia, in which she explained Malaysia coconut scenario, coconut varieties in Malaysia, regulation and Malaysian standard related to coconut. Malaysia has developed standards for 6 coconut products.

The second-day workshop was mainly focused on discussion for "Clarification and Harmonization of International Quality Standard for Coconut Products", The main speaker was Dr. Fabian M. Dayrit, Professor, Department of Chemistry, Ateneo de Manila University and Chair, ICC SACH. He presented CNO, RBD oil, and VCO quality standards to be considered for human consumption.

The other categories of products discussed were coconut milk, coconut cream, desiccated coconut, coconut powder, coconut sugar & coconut honey, chaired by Mr. Benjamin A. Madrigal (Jr), Administrator, Philippines Coconut Authority; coconut coir-based products, chaired by Mrs. Sumy Sebastian, Senior Research Officer, CCRI, Coir Board of India; coconut water, & nata de coco, chaired Dr. Prima Luna, Researcher Centre for Agricultural Post Harvest Research & Development, IAARD, Indonesiacoconut shell charcoal & activated carbon, chaired by Dr. K. Muralidharan, Head, Social Science Division CPCRI, India.

There was an in-depth discussion on the criteria to be followed on finalizing the international standards and the queries raised by the participants were addressed by the speakers in the discussion session.

The closing statement was delivered by Dr. Jelfina C. Alouw, Executive Director, ICC. She addressed that in developing ICC’s standard, it is necessary to focus on several key aspects such as the identity of the products, their unique characteristics, and potential contaminants. It is necessary to conduct regular training on food safety to increase compliance to the standard, form a quality standard committee whose main responsibility is to provide technical and policy advice and work on harmonizing the coconut product quality standards.

This workshop was just the beginning of the step taken by ICC to update and harmonize quality standards. In the next phase, the group of experts shall discuss the specific topic in forum group discussion for final validation and approval. She appreciated the distinguished speakers and the participants for their contributions. The two-day workshop was moderated by Ms. Mridula Kottekate, Assistant Director, ICC.

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