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Coconut is a versatile crop grown all over the world except Australia and Europe. Indonesia, Philippines and India are leading producers accounting for three-fourth of global output. Coconut oil and copra are the two major products shaping the global coconut economy.
The scientific name for coconut is ‘Cocos Nucifera’. Early Spanish explorers called it coco, which means "monkey face" because the three indentations (eyes) on the hairy nut resembles the head and face of a monkey. Nucifera means "nut-bearing."
The coconut provides a nutritious source of meat, juice, milk, and oil that has fed and nourished populations around the world for generations. On many islands coconut is a staple in the diet and provides the majority of the food eaten. Nearly one third of the world's population depends on coconut to some degree for their food and their economy. Among these cultures the coconut has a long and respected history.
Coconut is highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is classified as a "functional food" because it provides many health benefits beyond its nutritional content. Coconut oil is of special interest because it possesses healing properties far beyond that of any other dietary oil and is extensively used in traditional medicine among Asian and Pacific populations.
Pacific Islanders consider coconut oil to be the cure for all illness. The coconut palm is so highly valued by them as both a source of food and medicine that it is called "The Tree of Life." Only recently has modern medical science unlocked the secrets to coconut's amazing healing powers.
Coconut oil is used in India as a cooking fat, hair oil, body oil and industrial oil. Coconut oil is extracted from copra, the dried kernel of coconut. Oil content in copra varies from 65 to 72 percent. Steam cooking of copra is also practised by some millers to enhance the quality and aroma of oil.
Coconut oil is an important cooking medium in southern parts of the country especially in Kerala and has varied industrial applications. Besides cooking, coconut oil is also used extensively on cosmetics, toiletries, hair tonics and slew of other industries.
Coconut oil is marketed in bulk as well as in packs ranging from sachets containing 5 ml. to 15kg tins. The branded coconut oil in small packs is mainly marketed as hair oil and body oil. There are several brands known for their superior grade oil which have export market throughout the world.
India has unbeatable quality advantage in this sector. Refined coconut oil is also manufactured in the country for industrial uses. Refined coconut oil is mainly used in the manufacture of biscuits, chocolates and other confectionery items, ice cream, pharmaceutical products and costly paints. Generally, filtered coconut oil is used for cooking and toiletry purposes.
India accounts for nearly 20% of global coconut output. Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra are leading producers of coconut in the country. Kerala and Tamil Nadu are the major centres of coconut oil and copra in the country.
The price of coconut oil is shaped by variations in production, global demand and supply situation and price of other vegetable oils. Philippines is a major player globally in coconut oil. Rotterdam is the centre of global coconut oil trade.
Globally 5.5 million tons of coconut is produced annually. The share of leading producers, Indonesia, Philippines and India, are 27%, 23% and 22% respectively. SriLanka, Mexico, Vietnam, New Guinea and Brazil are other important producers.
Annually around 2 lakh ton raw copra, 1 lakh ton meal and 3.5 lakh ton coconut oil is traded worldwide. Indonesia, Philippines, SriLanka are important market for coconut and copra
There is no futures market for coconut complex outside India
Though crop is available throughout the year, it follows a seasonal cycle with the production peaking after the monsoon.
While coconut possesses many health benefits due to its fiber and nutritional content, it's the oil that makes it a truly remarkable food and medicine.
Once mistakenly believed to be unhealthy because of its high saturated fat content, it is now known that the fat in coconut oil is a unique and different from most all other fats and possesses many health giving properties. It is now gaining long overdue recognition as a nutritious health food.