Franklin Baker coco plant in Laguna to be replaced

Friday, November 30, 2007
PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said marine fuel trader Chemoil has assured the Laguna Provincial Government that it would set up a new investment in San Pablo City to replace the coconut products plant of Franklin Baker Company that would be transferred to Mindanao.

Arroyo made the announcement in her speech at the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) local peace and order assembly in San Pablo City, Laguna.

Arroyo said she has had “sleepless nights” after Laguna Representative Ivy Arago sought her help in appealing to Franklin Baker not to leave the city. She said the only silver lining is that Franklin Baker is not leaving for another country and that the Mindanao folks are looking forward to their transfer.

She said when she attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (Asean) summit in Singapore, she let Arago meet with Robert Chandran, founder and chief executive officer of Chemoil, which is the mother company of Franklin Baker.

She said Chandran told Arago that his company would reap more profits if Franklin Baker relocates to Mindanao because the land there is more fertile and the coconut trees more productive.

But she said Chandran assured Arago that he will put a new kind of investment -- possibly services, information technology or tourism -- in San Pablo City to replace the one that would be lost. She said Chandran would soon visit the Philippines to look at the site.

Before going back to Manila, Arroyo visited the Franklin Baker plant in San Pablo City to meet with officials and determine the “transition” measures that would have to be undertaken to help the workers during the “in between” or closure and the opening of the new Chemoil investment.

Franklin Baker Company is a leading manufacturer and distributor of desiccated and specialty coconut in the US and international markets. It holds an estimated 40 percent share of the US desiccated coconut market. It is responsible for manufacturing retail coconut brands such as Baker's.

The business coconut products are manufactured in two facilities in the Philippines, located at San Pablo City and Davao del Sur.

Franklin Baker Company produces 20 to 25 million pounds of desiccated coconut annually. (JMR/Sunnex)