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Value Added Business Opportunities In Coconut

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Value Added Business Opportunities In Coconut

Functional foods
The market is attracting health conscious groups with functional food buzz words like designer foods, medical foods, longevity foods, hyper nutritional foods, super foods, pharma foods, perspective foods, phyto foods, therapeutic foods and others. These foods contain biologically active components thought to enhance health and wellbeing. While the conventional food sector has an expected growth rate of 1–3%, functional foods are catching up and surpassing this market with a growth rate of 7–8%. Between 1998 and 2003, global value sales of functional food increased by almost 60% and are further set to rise by 40% by 2008 (Global Market Analyst Euromonitor). By 2010 the most industrialised countries, Western Europe (34%), the USA (34%) and Japan (25%), will account for 90% of the total estimated market.

A high level of new product activity is continuing to stimulate growth in the fast growing global confectionery market, which was worth US$95 billion in 2002 with a total volume of 15 million t. The perceptive consumption is 17 kg/year in Denmark, 16 kg in Sweden, 13 kg in Norway and in Europe and North America (8.8–10.7 kg).
Coconut milk, milk powder and desiccated coconut provide lauric acid which can help build up resistance/immunity against viral, fungal and bacterial diseases. Coconut oil and its medium-chain fatty acid derivatives have an increasing role to play in the fast-developing functional foods market, particularly baby foods, nutriceuticals and pharmaceuticals.

Functional drinks from coconut
This area concentrates on value-added products. The functional drink market continues to be healthy—the sports drink, energy drink, wellbeing drink and welcome drink markets are continuously growing. Beverage markets showed strong growth between 1998 and 2003, expanding by a compound annual growth rate of almost 11%. Functional juices markets also showed good growth, with value-added sales up by an estimated 73% between 2003 and 2008. One reason behind the success of functional beverages is convenience—they can be consumed on the move and therefore tap into the key consumer demand pattern of health, convenience and portability.
The global functional food drinks market, defined as ‘soft drink with added health benefits’, was valued at US$13.86 billion in 2000. This is expected to double to US$24 billion by 2005. Sports drinks are mainly isotonic and hypotonic, and are based with leading brand names. Energy drinks, including glucose-based products, had a market value of US$3.5 billion in 2000. Most of the energy drinks contain caffeine, vitamins and minerals, but caffeine is problematic in some countries.
Young coconut water (tender-nut water) and mature coconut water, in both a pure form and with various added minerals and vitamins, could have wider domestic and international markets with well directed marketing.

Cosmoceuticals
Production of cosmetics and personal products in Asian and Pacific countries is just developing, with emerging popularity of skin-whitening products. With growth of 10% for cosmetics and personal care products, and 5–19% for soap in Asia and the Pacific, the requirement is enormous. Many of the Pacific countries are importing all products. Coconut oil, which is rich in C12 and C14 fatty acids (lauric and myristic), is good for skin care when applied as a pure product and also as manufactured cleaning products that have wide acceptance.

Oleochemicals
The long-term trend for oleochemicals is favourable, with world capacity expected to rise to 12 million t and production to 10.8 million t by 2010. Consumer trend is increasing towards the application of oleochemicals in detergent, soap and personal care products, and hence there is good scope for coconut based oleochemicals.

Biofuels/biolubricants
Energy security perspectives have become a driving force for the use of vegetable oil-based biodiesel fuels.
Numerous countries are in the process of making biofuels. However, there are three challenges the biofuel sector must overcome: price considerations, lack of awareness of the fuel and negative impact on the glycerine supply to existing markets. Biolubricants are functional fluids made from vegetable oils and downstream esters. For example, coconut oil as a biolubricant has been used in India for three-wheeler vehicles. The overall global usage of renewable raw materials in lubricants and related functional fluid applications is about 250,000 t, comprising about 0.7% of the total lubricant marketed and 0.25% of the total oils and fats produced annually.
The Philippines is moving forward followed by Thailand, Vanuatu and Marshall Islands. Double-filtered coconut oil is used directly in Marshall Islands to run cars, fishing boats, trucks etc, while in the Philippines a mixture of diesel and methyl ester from coconut oil at a 99:1 ratio is used, with plans to increase this to 95:5.

Premium Grade Monolaurin and HIV/AIDS
Over a period of 22 years, 42 million people in the world have been affected by HIV/AIDS. This viral disease affects 7.2 million people in Asian and Pacific countries, while India is reported to have 3.5–5.0 million sufferers. Coconut oil, with 48% lauric acid, is a potential source for producing monolaurin (lauricidin), which has been experimentally found to reduce the virus. Dr Jon Kabara, a scientist from the USA, has undertaken some preliminary work but pilot-scale testing with a large number of AIDS patients needs to be undertaken. The Philippines has also done some basic studies and would like to expand. If a small amount of the donor funds received for the Global AIDS Awareness campaign could be spent on this research, it should be possible to develop a cost-effective control measure. If this
happens, the coconut currently produced throughout the world may not be adequate to meet the needs of all sufferers.

Coir and coir pith
For environmental friendliness, cost and low weight, natural fibres are now considered to be important. Natural fibres used as reinforcements in industrial products have made considerable inroads into the production of automotive interiors, especially in Europe. Several European firms are testing whether coir pith can play a role in the growing automotive market for ‘biocomposites’ or as thermal insulation in home construction. It is also used as a filler to replace talc and calcium carbonate in certain household products.
Coir fibre matting products for soil protection along roadside cuttings and bare patches have been shown to be effective and are becoming popular under the label ‘geotextile’. In the horticulture sector, natural fibre pith can play a vital role as it has a short life (disposability) and reasonable strength for transporting flowers, vegetables and fruit and for bulking up potting mixtures. The Netherlands produces about 1,850 million plant pots annually, consuming about 30,000 t of synthetic plastics. It is anticipated that the use of biodegradable pots using natural fibres could replace these synthetic plastic pots within 10 years.
Rubberised coir used to be the material of choice for car seats but recently it has lost out to competition from synthetic foams. Yet, the remaining use of coir in several up-market European car models is an example of how natural fibre products can remain competitive and possibly regain ground. When compared to high-end foams, seat covers made from rubberized coir provide better feel and support.
Manufacturing these covers used to be a multistep labor intensive process, but in 2000–01 two major German automotive suppliers jointly developed a novel one-step injection process offering shorter cycling times, higher productivity, more consistent quality and, ultimately, lower production cost. The process requires that the used twisted coir fibre is virtually free of pith and very consistent in the weight per unit length of twisted strand.
Wall panels produced from blast furnace slag cement and coir fibres have been developed in Brazil using a low-cost environmentally friendly technology. This technology is available from the Institute de Pesquisas Technologie do Estado de Sao Paulo S.A., Brazil. High-tech production of industrial textiles is possible and needs to be exploited by importing coir fibre.

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