Kerala produces over 600 crore coconuts in a single year. These coconuts have several uses and among them, packaged tender coconut water is set to become a booming industry. The state is currently in the process of setting up large plants to package and produce tender coconut water.
With the US eastern coast moving from sodas to coconut water, the timing of these tender coconut-packaging plants could not be better. New York has labeled the packed tender coconut water as the next big thing. The Tender coconut industry in the US grew 100 percent to USD 400 million in 2011.
Kerala is not the only producer of this favoured Indian drink, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Odisha are getting in on the action as well. The biggest markets in India are in Delhi, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Mumbai.
India produces around 1,500 crore coconuts per year. Out of the entire harvest, only 15 percent is used for tender coconut water. The coconut development board is currently considering increasing that number to 25 percent, the board also has plans to launch 5,000 green coconut stalls across the country.
With the country, all set to invade the beverage market with packed tender coconut water, the country’s highest coconut producers are facing immense legacy burdens. The Kerala coconut industry is on a steady decline, due to urbanization, shortage in labour, migration to cash crops and a problem with pests.
In times like this, the best solution will be to forge that elusive public-private partnership to help preserve the age-old tradition of coconut product producers in Kerala.
The Kochi-based Coconut Development Board is encouraging integrated coconut processing complexes as a possible solution. These complexes can also produce other coconut products like coconut oil, coconut milk and milk powder.
The organized sector of tender coconut producers are slowly increasing. With a rise in demand, companies like Jain Agro Food Products, the Karnataka based company that sells packaged coconut water under the ‘Coco-Jal’ brand have found large markets within the country and has contributed to a 20 to25 percent growth in the domestic industry.
Interestingly even though Kerala has a large production unit for coconuts, the Maddur district in Karnataka is the largest wholesale market for tender coconuts.
Kerala accounts for 42 percent of the country’s coconut groves but only 37 percent of its production. Even with this, the state has not one single plant dedicated to packaging and producing tender coconut water.
Kerala does however have plans to start 10 of these units in the near future according to a report in The Economic Times.