The coconut oil can be sold as a high-quality ingredient in cosmetics and soap, as a health-boosting cooking oil, or as biodiesel.
The role of the coconut in the world oil market has changed over the past few decades to a stage where the traditional business based on large-scale export of copra to regional or international oil processors is no longer viable. The margins are small and strongly dependent on current agricultural and market situations. This has meant that many coconut trees are under-utilised.
/~While the coconut palm has many potential uses, one which has been developed at a small business level is the production of high-quality virgin oil.
Kokonut Pacific’s direct micro-expelling (DME) technology has been installed in many places in the Pacific Islands and more recently in Mozambique and Kenya. The technology is well proven.
Very detailed costing calculators along with a business readiness checklist are available on-line to support the initial feasibility study.
The equipment required is supplied in kit form along with operations manuals and start-up training.
The success of the businesses firstly depends on the market that is available for the oil and for other by-products. The products range from an alternative cooking oil, through niche soaps and cosmetics, to an organic natural ingredient for speciality cosmetics, to biofuel for local use.
Furthermore, income can be supplemented by the sale of the press-cake which is left over after the oil is expelled. This is used as an animal feed, but its value can be increased by grinding the dried meal into flour and selling it as a new health food – gluten-free, high-fibre coconut flour.
Up to half of the husks and shells of the processed coconuts are used to fuel the dryer.
It may be advisable to purchase virgin coconut oil from existing producers to provide samples to test a local market.
Kokonut Pacific offers two business opportunities:
- Individual DME Unit enterprises employing around five workers which source the coconuts and produce the oil.
- DME Service Centre businesses that provide support to the DME Unit enterprises. The sizes and roles of these centres depend on circumstances, but they would support 10 or more DME Unit enterprises with appropriate services, including planning, procurement, installation, commissioning, operational extension support, quality control, bulking of oil, and sales.
The Kokonut Pacific offers calculators that allow a user to assess the viability of specific circumstances.
One kit for DME, excluding other factory equipment, costs about $5,000. The cost of a total installation depends on local conditions and infrastructure, but would typically be around $15,000.
Dr Dan Etherington, founder of Kokonut Pacific, was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2008 by the Governor-General in recognition of his work with virgin coconut oil and sustainable development.
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