SUNBIZ

How Coconuts Went From Poor Man’s Crop To Top Commercial Commodity

The emergence of virgin coconut oil changed coconuts from being a poor man’s crop to a commercial commodity.
10 Aug 2020 13:53
How Coconuts Went From Poor Man’s Crop To Top Commercial Commodity
Ilisoni Sirilo with the centrifuge at Pacific Produce in Taveuni.

Virgin oil changed the way people perceived coconuts, said Taveuni-based manufacturer Pacific Produce Pte Ltd owner Peter Kjaer said.

The emergence of virgin coconut oil changed coconuts from being a poor man’s crop to a commercial commodity.

“At the same time, research has proven coconut oil to be very healthy oil.

“We wanted to be part of that.”

Mr Kjaer, a Danish retiree, bought his farm – then a copra estate – in Taveuni in 1988.

He is looking forward to the rebirth of the old coconut plantation 3000 acres he bought.

“Coconuts are more Pacific than any other crop,” Mr Kjaer said.

“We have invested over half a million in replanting and processing facilities, and we are confident we will get it back with a dividend.”

Demand

Mr Kjaer said the world market demand for coconut products was increasing.

“Ultimately, we will have to export.,” he said.

“Locally there is an increasing awareness of coconut oils health benefits.

“With the diabetes figures we have in Fiji, it is absurd that coconut oil is not the preferred cooking oil.”

He hailed Fiji Coconut Millers recent move to purchase a deodoriser to clean copra oil and market it as edible oil.

“That is a positive step.

TaveNiu oil

Pacific Produce are makers of TaveNiu Virigin Coconut Oil, edible oil that will be available at Extra supermarkets.

“We are convinced there is a market in Fiji for high-quality edible coconut oil which is truly cold processed and organic,” Mr Kjaer said.

“That is what we are making available with TaveNiu which will be sold through Extra Supermarket shortly. “

The quality of the oil sets TaveNiu apart from what’s on offer, he said.

“The cold process we use with separation by centrifuges produce water clear high-quality oil with a sweet fragrance of coconuts,” Mr Kjaer said.

“When used in cooking, it is exceptional – you just have to try yourself.”

Diversification

Mr Kjaer said there was a time when there was not much money in copra.

“We began by growing pineapple in 1992 to supply to the tourism industry,” he said.

“The last five years, we supplied 200-250 ton/year to hotels – the bulk on Viti Levu.

“We were one of the bigger suppliers when it all collapsed with the arrival of coronavirus.”

Pacific Produce began replanting coconuts with a pilot plot of 15 acres in 2016.

“In 2018 and 2019, the farm expanded to 200 acres more of coconut replanting complete 600 acres this year,” he said.

“In 2019, we got the equipment for producing VCO and began trials to get it right.

“The process we use is unique – we use centrifuges to separate the oil from the lolo, it is truly cold processed oil.

“The coconuts and the extraction process is organically certified for Fiji, Australia and the US.”

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