It may not be a game-changer as far as foreign investment in the Guyana economy is concerned but the recent announcement that coconut water imported into the United States from Guyana could be used in the manufacture of an energy drink that will target the high-end US market has already set tongues wagging in the region.
After the official disclosure last week that two investors, George Papanastasatos and Marim Kinkladze had met with President Donald Ramotar several media houses in the region including the Jamaica Observer and the Barbados Advocate Business Monday highlighted the development. While little has as yet been heard locally as to where the investment discourses go from here, the two investors have reportedly been making positive noises regarding the pros-pects for the project. The Jamaica Observer quotes Papanastasatos as saying that it was “only a matter of building the right resources for us to get the right quantities of coconut water.”
Since 2009 when export earnings from coconuts jumped to $120 million from around $16 million in the previous year the Guy-ana Marketing Corporation (GMC) has been talking up the prospects for the coconut industry.
The GMC had disclosed that almost 3,000 tonnes of coconut had been exported in 2009 as against 268 tonnes in the previous year. GMC figures have indicated that in 2009, the export of coconut products including copra, water and coconut oil had netted more than $500 million.
What has been, in large measure, a neglected industry will, however, have to pull its weight if it is to meet the quality demands of the US market. The investors are reportedly seeking “organically produced coco-nuts” which are reportedly the best sellers in North America.
Papanastasatos, however, is quoted in the Jamaica Observer as saying that the arrangement to secure coconuts from Guyana “seems feasible.”
Of particular interest to Guyana will be the marketing strategy to be used to sell the coconut-based energy drink which will reportedly seek to sell the country on a broader scale.
What would appear to be a breakthrough for the local coconut industry coincides with a significant increase in the demand for coconut water in the US with manufacturers already offering various types of coconut water-based products including sports drinks, fruit juices, yogurts and sorbets.
Research into the health and nutritional value of coconut water indicates that one of its main health benefits derives from its electrolyte content which is connected to its popularity as a sports drink.
The announcement regarding the foreign private investment in an energy drink utilizing coconut water from Guyana comes less than two months after the announcement by the Ministry of Agriculture here that it was working towards the creation of a brand of coconut water for which it would seek recognition by the Food and Agriculture Organization as a health drink. In June, Agriculture Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy announced that government was working with the FAO, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture and the governments of Brazil and Mexico to help develop the coconut industry here.