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Coconut’s versatility and popularity to boost tropical planting

Coconuts seem to be everywhere these days. Whether as “water” in PepsiCo Inc.’s Naked drink range, as “milk” in Starbucks Corp.’s coffees, as shampoo in L’Oréal SA’s products or even as a patty in Beyond Meat’s vegan burgers, the tropical fruit has captured new markets with a growing reputation as a healthy, natural product.

The popularity has been a boon for prices, with the cost of coconut oil alone more than doubling since its low in 2013. But it hasn’t translated into increased production as diseases, natural disasters and aging plantations kept global output stagnant over the past decade.

That’s about to change thanks to a program of replantings and rehabilitation across the tropics. Output of copra, the dried coconut meat that’s used to make coconut oil, will jump more than 30 per cent in the decade to 2026 as yields in the biggest growers rebound, according to a July 10 report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

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