The Coconut Industry

Issues & threats facing the industry

Global Snapshot

The coconut industry comprises of more than 11 million farmers who grow coconut trees in 93 countries in an area the size of 12.196 million hectares.

Nearly 90 percent of the global area occupied by coconut trees is located in the Asia-Pacific region, which is geographically close to Australia. The majority is on small holdings of approximately 0.5 – 4.0 hectares of land.

In 2014 there was an annual production of 69.836 billion coconuts grown (APCC stats), with a global gross value of coconut products exceeding USD$50 Billion.

The Issue​

Studies indicate that due to trees being senescent (too old), over 50% of existing trees are declining in productivity – instead of producing 200-300 coconuts per tree per year, the world average is just 29 coconuts. This decline comes at a time when the popularity of coconut is soaring with demand for coconut products worldwide growing by more than 500% in the past decade. 

One of the major issues facing the industry is that there isn’t enough planting material available to meet these global replanting efforts. Traditional methods of planting a nut in the ground are simply not scalable and embodies a degree of uncertainty as to the potential of the progeny. Will the new plant have traits more like the father tree than the mother tree?

Tree Of Life

Coconut trees are known as the ‘Tree of Life’ and for very good reason. More than 100 products can be made from the coconut tree so it’s little wonder that it’s part of everyday life for billions of people globally. More recently coconuts have been recognised as a “Super food” simply defined as being a nutrient dense food.  Botanically speaking, the coconut fruit is a drupe, consisting of pericarp and mesocarp (husk), endocarp (shell) and testa enveloping the mature endosperm (kernel) which has a central cavity (vacuole) containing liquid endosperm (enriched water).

Coconuts are known for their versatility ranging from food to cosmetics. They form a regular part of the diets for many people in the tropics and subtropics. Coconuts are distinct from other fruits for their endosperm containing a large quantity of water (also called “milk”) and when immature, may be harvested for the potable coconut water. When mature, they can be used as seed nuts or processed for oil, charcoal (activated carbon) from the hard shell, and coir from the fibrous husk. When dried, the coconut flesh is called copra. The oil and milk derived from it are commonly used in cooking and frying, as well as in soaps and cosmetics. The husks and leaves can be used as material to make a variety of products for furnishing and decorating.

Various Coconut Uses

Coconut Water

  • Water
  • Concentrate
  • Sports Drinks
  • Nata de coca (jelly)
  • IV FLuid
  • Diuretic

Coconut Flesh

  • Milk
  • Yoghurt
  • Ice Cream
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Coconut Oil
  • Milk Powder
  • Shredded Coconut
  • Dessicated Coconut
  • Copra
  • Paring Oil
  • Flour
  • Bio-Diesel
  • Stock Feed

Coconut Husks

  • Fibre Board
  • Hydroponic Planting Material
  • Bio-degradeable Uses
  • Husk Substrate

Coconut Coir

  • Coir Blocks
  • Geo-Textiles
  • Pith/Cocopeat
  • Ropes/Floor Mats/Rugs/Mattresses
  • Erosion Matting
  • Coco Fibre
Coconut Tree uses


  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Skin Cream
  • Sun Cream
  • Diaper Cream
  • Sand Fly Repellant
  • Hair Oil
  • Massage Oil
  • Activated Carbon

Coconut Leaves

  • Brooms
  • Cooking Skewers
  • Roof Thatching
  • Baskets/Mats

Coconut Nectar

  • Coconut Sap
  • Wine
  • Vinegar
  • Cider
  • Neera
  • Sugar
  • Spread
  • Lambanog (Vodka)
  • Honey
  • Aminoa
  • Toddy

Coconut Trunk

  • Timber
  • Furniture
  • Veneer
  • Hawaiian Drums
  • Hawaiian Canoes
  • Charcoal
  • Fuel

Coconut Roots

  • Dye
  • Mouthwash

Whole Nuts

  • Whole nuts - de-husked
  • Whole nuts - husk on