The FAO, which is promoting the process, wants to
boost the commercialisation of coconut water and help small farmers to gain market share.
The organisation has published a training guide to this effect.
“The cold preservation process requires little investment and skills, and it offers small entrepreneurs a chance to enter the market of bottling coconut water of good quality,” said Rosa Rolle
of FAO’s rural infrastructure and agro-industries division.
Coconut water, the liquid endosperm inside young coconuts, has long been a popular drink in the tropics. It is naturally fat-free and low in food energy (16.7 calories or 70 kJ per 100 g), and
has potential as a sports drink because of its high potassium and mineral content.
West Europe’s energy drink sales accelerated by 15 per cent to a volume of 383 million litres and a value of over €3 billion in 2005, according to drinks consultancy Zenith
A further 12 per cent rise was expected to be achieved in 2006, taking volume to 428 million litres, which equates to an average of 1.5 litres per person.
Coconut water’s potential however remains largely untapped. To date, most coconut water is still consumed fresh in tropical countries, largely because, once exposed to air and warm
temperatures, it rapidly deteriorates.
In addition, canned coconut water is not ideal. Sterilising the product using high temperature and short-time pasteurisation destroys some of the nutrients in coconut water and almost all of
the delicate flavour.
It allows farmers to produce bottled coconut water that stays fresh from 10 days to three weeks. This will help to meet demands from domestic retail markets.
“The simple cold preservation process will provide the consumer the convenience of purchasing a bottle of refreshing coconut water and opens new opportunities for small farmers and
entrepreneurs in coconut producing countries,”said Rolle.
The cold preservation technology is not protected by a patent and can be used by anybody..
This process was developed and evaluated in Jamaica, in close collaboration with the University of the West Indies, the Coconut Industries Board and the Jamaican Scientific Research Council.