Among the different members of the palm family, the Coconut tree is acknowledged as ‘tree of life’ or ‘Kalpavriksha’ because of the endless products derived from its various parts and that contribute to people survival on earth. Botanically, Coconut tree is known as Cocos nucifera. The term Cocos Nucifera is derived from the 16th-century Portuguese and Spanish word coco meaning “head” or “skull”, from the three indentations on the coconut shell that resemble facial features of a monkey.
The coconut palm excels in the tropics, notably the Philippines and Indonesia closely followed by India and Brazil which combined, account for approximately 80% of the world’s coconut production. Coconut is grown in over more than 80 countries worldwide, but the truth is the majority of the world’s inhabitants have not exploited its full benefits and potential. No doubt, Coconut tree is one of the most valuable crops in India.
The value-added products from coconut include coconut water, coconut oil, virgin coconut oil, coconut meat, coconut milk, coconut desiccated powder and coconut flour.
- Coconut water – Coconut water is a natural isotonic drink. It is extracted from young, green coconuts that have not reached maturity. It contains electrolyte s like potassium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium.
- Coconut oil – This is the most favored opportunity from the coconut tree.It is the healthiest oil available for human consumption and the best means of reaping all the health benefits of the coconut. It solves many health-related issues within the body and its outside. Coconut oil helps people lose body fat, get leaner, and improve their cholesterol levels, hair quality, and strength.
- Coconut meat – This is the white, fleshy part of the coconut. It contains MCTs like coconut oil, in addition to vitamins A and E, polyphenols, and phytosterols – all of which work together to decrease levels of LDL cholesterol.There are a number of uses for the meat.Coconut meat can be eaten raw, cooked, or toasted.
- Coconut flour – Coconut flour is grain and gluten-free flour that is essentially dried coconut meat in powdered form. It packs a whopping 5 grams of fiber per 2 tablespoons and lowers the glycemic index in baked goods (which is a plus for those with diabetes). Coconut flour is an excellent choice for those with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or wheat allergies. The product is made completely of pure coconut. The milk must be separated from the meat in order to produce the dry flour. Once the separation is complete the meat baked at a low temperature to dry it out and create a powdery flour made entirely of coconut.
- Coconut milk – Not to be confused with coconut water, this is the liquid that comes from the grated meat of a mature coconut.The creamy texture is similar to cow’s milk. The taste, consistency, and health benefits make it a great milk substitute (and of course, it is lactose-free).
- Coconut Neera – Neera is the sap extracted from the spathe or the immature flower spike of coconut trees. Neera is a deliciously natural, nonalcoholic beverage and high in nutritional value. It is sweet, light golden in colour and translucent. Neera is used as a fresh drink or blended with other fruit juices, eliminating the addition of cane sugar. It can also be made into coconut syrup, honey, jaggery, and sugar. Unlike refined cane sugar, no chemicals are used in coconut sugar production and it is a far healthier substitute than cane sugar. The coconut sugar demand is growing substantially around the world, with the US being the largest importer.
Coming to the global demand for coconut
In the last decade, the demand for coconuts has grown exponentially to 500%. During the same time, coconut got its biggest marketing boost yet. With a series of celebrity endorsements, it has been re-launched as a “superfood” to the global market.This has been linked to most of the benefits highlighted earlier. For instance, coconut oil and water are in high demand by companies in Europe and other developed countries that rely on the tree to produce natural products such as soaps, toothpaste among others.
The demand for coconut products such as Coconut water and Virgin coconut oil has skyrocketed during the last decade mainly due to their recently discovered health benefits.
Virgin coconut oil is the oil extracted from the coconut without the application of heat. Extracted directly by cold compression of fresh dried coconut meat, Virgin Coconut Oil is rich in antioxidants and medium chain fatty acids.
The global virgin coconut market has been forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 9.8% over the period of 2016-2024. While the global virgin coconut oil market accounted for USD 2.1 billion in 2016, it is anticipated to deliver USD 4.2 billion by 2024.