PH eyes $15M investment from PepsiCo, Fil-Am coco firm

By Delon Porcalla, The Philippine Star

Posted at Sep 21 2011 07:39 AM | Updated as of Sep 21 2011 10:07 PM

NEW YORK (via PLDT) – The prospects of having an additional $15-million investment by softdrink manufacturing giant Pepsi Corp. and a Fil-Am company had brought excitement to President Aquino, who will be having several speaking engagements here.

 “Iyung business meetings very positive ang resulta. There’s a very strong interest in coconut water from two beverage companies. Demand has been growing very fast,” Secretary Ricky Carandang said.

He said PepsiCo and beverage company Vita Coco and Fiesta Coco Equity, have expressed their intent to invest in a venture that will harvest the natural and medicinal properties of coconut water and selling it around the world.

The two companies paid separate courtesy calls to President Aquino at the Guggenheim Room of the Omni Berkshire Hotel where he is billeted.

 Carandang said PepsiCo, Vita Coco and Fiesta Coco Equity are aware of the growing demand for coconut water in this country and other countries as an alternative to carbonated sodas.

Consumers are turning to healthier means to hydrate themselves after working out or just quench everyday thirst from normal activities. Because of this, these companies are turning to coconut-rich countries as sources for their products.

 “So these companies want to source the demand for coconut water from the Philippines. So malaking opportunity ito for our coconut industry and for our farmers,” Carandang said.

 Carandang added that while PepsiCo did not give any figure during the courtesy call, the company is serious in its plans to expand its coconut harvesting operations in the Philippines because of the “huge potential.”

 Vita Coco co-founder and CEO Michael Kirben and Fiesta Coco Equity president Romeo Chan said they had just signed an agreement to increase the production and harvesting of coconut water.

Chan said that FCE, which has a coconut plantation in Misamis Occidental, has pledged to supply the demand of Vita Coco.

The duo said they told the President of their company’s pledge to invest $15 million over the next four years not only to harvest coconut water but to do its part in preserving the resource by planting more coconut trees in the country.

 “Generally we discussed the coconut industry in the Philippines and how there’s a lot of room to bring rebirth to the industry in general,” Kirben said.

 “We expressed a lot of interest in the planting of coconut trees to revive the coconut industry because we noticed that a lot of the trees are senile and old,” Chan added.

 Carandang said the President was excited over the new investment prospects as these would help in his government’s poverty alleviation campaign through job generation.

 “It (investment) is something rural communities can benefit from so it dovetails with the President’s anti-poverty through job generation campaign,” Carandang said. “Kaya nga masaya siya eh…excited siya, excited si Presidente.”

Another BPO coming over to the Philippines

 A leading business process outsourcing company has chosen the Philippines as one of its “model centers” that will supply the growing demand for highly trained and skilled workers to cater to clients with “higher end” needs.

 Bill Bloom, executive vice president of EXL Services, a leading provider of outsourcing and transformation services to Global 1000 companies in multiple industries, called on President Aquino at the Omni Berkshire hotel here on to tell him of their company’s growth and expansion programs in Manila.

 He said they now have a growing base of clients who need higher end services rather than traditional call center work. Called “middle office,” this type of higher end service caters to work needed by professionals in health and business fields.

 “So that would include work that is typically provided to physicians, nurses or lawyers or accountants and we’re building models such that we can offer those services to our clients here in the US from our centers in the Philippines,” Bloom said.