I’ve been a coconut buyer for the past eight years. I first became hooked while scouting the old EDSA Central wet markets for merienda. Remnants of that market can still be found in Barangays’ Mauway / Highway Hills over the road in Mandaluyong, but it has long since been paved over by modern condos and local residents who now favour chic “farmers” markets over the traditional palengke. However, what I miss about it was that in 2007, you could get Philippine buko for only 16 pesos (starting price is at 18 pesos – but, siyempre may tawad dyan…)
Chris Urbano reports about the Philippine buko price hike in the country today.
In some provinces where Philippine buko is abundant, locals quench their buko thirst for free. They just have to climb the coconut tree and get their own. That is not the case in the metro, though. By the end of 2007, those deliciously low prices were getting harder and harder to get; the starting price was heading north to PHP20. You can just imagine my outrage to return to the Philippines in 2014 and learn that a Cubao buko was now going for PHP26 (that’s after tawad already), the very cheapest I’ve got is PHP25, though that was at the badass Murphy markets – and to be fair, the tindero never actually agreed to the price, I made hingi the last peso.
Buko vendor relays that one Foreignoy is a buko ‘suki’ for a while now.
In Makati City, you’ll be lucky to get a coconut for under PHP30. Try to buy one at the weekend markets – it’s now up to 40 or 50 php/buko. (Thanks, hipsters).
This is a dramatic price rise. I actually calculated that the Cubao Buko Price index (proprietary research by one Chris Urbano) by 65% between 2007 and 2014. Inflation in the Philippines on the other hand, grew by only 35% over the same period (Source: World Bank). Yep, buko prices have grown at nearly twice the rate of inflation.
Buko Price Growth VS. Inflation (2007-2014)
So, what’s behind this staggering price rise? While I do think Filipino hipsters are in part to blame, weekend markets represent only a fraction of the national consumption. And as the world’s leading exporter of coconut products, even the supply shocks following recent natural disasters are unlikely to cause real domestic shortages. It leaves only one explanation: Foreigners and their on shore counterparts: the Foreignoys.
Buko became popular after studies suggest that it helps strengthen the body and reduces heart risks and fatigue.
In my first ever live cross for TV Patrol, I had the chance to report on these bizarre members of Philippine society: part expatriate, part provincial kanto boy, but with deep pockets and sold on coconut water as the latest health miracle, they’re driving up the prices for the rest of us! WATCH it now!