Globally approximately 62 million tonnes of coconut are produced annually and the Philippines (15,350,000 tonnes) is one of the top three producers. Leyte province has an estimated 168,000 hectares of coconut plantations many of which are now returning to production following Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013.
The Plentex plant’s annual requirement at full production will be approximately 39 million nuts out of the estimated Leyte total production of 740 million nuts (i.e. about 6%).
Coconuts can be processed into many products including:
In the form of coconut flour, desiccated coconut, coconut milk, coconut chips, candies, bukayo or local sweetened shredded coconut meat and animal feeds.
Historically commercial grade coconut oils have been made from copra. Copra is the dried kernel (meat) of the coconut - made by smoke drying, sun drying or kiln drying – or a combination of these processes.
The standard oil product made from copra is RBD – (refined, bleached and deodorised oil) which has many applications in the food and pharmaceutical industries. High heat is used to deodorise the oil and the oil is filtered to remove impurities.
Virgin coconut oil (VCO) on the other hand is produced from fresh coconut meat by two main processes
- quick drying of fresh coconut meat using minimal heat and then pressing out the oil by mechanical means
- wet milling – with this method the oil is extracted from the fresh coconut meat without drying – “coconut milk” is expressed first by pressing. The oil is then separated from the water. Methods include boiling, fermentation or mechanical centrifuge.
Coconut water is a relatively new product that is wasted in the production of copra. It has been shown to have significant health benefits including curing renal disorders. It is also an economical thirst quencher, hunger satisfier and can be made into vinegar.
Coconut husks consist of bristle fiber (10%), mattress fiber (20%) and coir dust and shorts or wastes (70%). It can be used to make brushes, doormats, carpets, bags, ropes, yarn fishing nets, mattresses and importantly geo technical matting for stabilisation of slopes. The Philippines exports coir fiber to Japan, Germany and the United States.
Coconut shell can be converted into activated carbon utilized in air purification systems such as cooker hoods, air conditioning, industrial gas purification systems, industrial gas masks and in the processing of gold ores. It can also be turned into briquettes as an alternative cost effective energy source