Rising global demand creating lucrative market for minor players in coconut industry

Still nowhere close to finding its feet among the global big players, Guyana’s coconut industry can take heart from the fact that continually fast-growing demand for coconut and its by-products still leaves considerable lucrative market space for small operators. So great is the continual global coconut demand that the dominance of the sector by more than a dozen countries in Asia, Africa and the Americas still does not shut out access by other countries seeking to break in to an increasingly lucrative industry.

 A report published in April by the research entity World Atlas asserts that the big players in what has become one of the most high-profile sub-sectors in the global agricultural sector have been hard-pressed to meet burgeoning global coconut demand mostly on account of the challenges associated with operating sustainable farms. While the report says that the coconut industry promises to be a profitable venture in the future despite the challenges facing the industry, the top coconut suppliers are struggling to meet the increasing demands of the global economy. Coconut has been a cash crop for decades and, even with stiff competition from other vegetable oils, it promises to continue to be a profitable venture in the future. The report says that the leading global producers “must learn from the current situation and take steps to ensure that their farms are sustainable enough to stand the tests of time and meet future demands.

 Indonesia is listed in the report as being currently the world leader in coconut production with annual production numbers put at 183 million tonnes., followed by the Philippines and India with annual production of 153,532,000 tonnes and 119,300,000 tonnes, respectively.

While the collective production strength of the global leaders in coconut production continue, up until now, to cope with growing global demand, the report tags lack of investment in sustaining the productivity of coconut-growing lands, largely due to the high costs associated with doing so, as one of the major impediments to increasing production rates. One consequence of this, it says, is that “some farms are producing 75% less fruit than they did 30 years ago.”

 And according to the report the problem of insufficient supply to meet the increased demand “is not helped by the fact that many of the trees producing coconuts today are over 50 years old, 20 years past their prime production years.” The influential Asian and Pacific Coconut Community, (APCC) is reporting that many plantations in Asia are experiencing zero growth, and some are even ceasing production.

Apart from the fast-growing global production of coconut water, coconut products are used to make a wide range of products, including clothing, animal feed and beauty creams. The edible flesh of coconuts is also widely consumed. By far its most important product, however, are its oils, which are extracted, processed, and marketed for culinary, medicinal, and cosmetic uses. Higher priced ‘virgin’ coconut oil is extracted directly from the fruit.

 The challenges confronting the global coconut industry, however, have not been sufficient to contain the fast-growing global demand for coconut products. A recent Global Info. Research study points to a projected growth in the worldwide market for coconut water at an annual rate of around 14.4 per cent over the next five years, rising in value from US$6,150,000 in 2017 to US$13,800,000 in 2023.

 Brazil, whose current production level is put at 2,890,286.00 tonnes, is the world’s fourth largest producer of coconuts and the hemisphere’s leading producer. Coconut production in Brazil is reportedly growing as demand for coconut products increases with the crop being regarded as an important part of the country’s economy.

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