We caught up with Garry Stiven, founder of Coconoil virgin coconut oil, to find out more about the product and it’s environmental impact.
“Cold pressed virgin coconut oil contains the highest nutrient content of any product extracted from the coconut tree making it hugely land efficient as a food source. We therefore do not sell any other coconut products such as RBD coconut oil, coconut water, coconut flour or other nutritional products from the coconut tree. In our view these other products are a more serious threat to the environment because they are either mass produced or have a very short shelf life which can cause wastage.
“We firmly believe in the sustainability and longevity in our products which is why we continue to only sell virgin coconut oil. The trees in our plantations live and fruit for over 50 years under completely natural growing conditions. It is then produced in small batches with a resulting shelf life of at least two years which is great for minimising waste.
“A large proportion of our products derive from our organically certified plantations in Sri Lanka. Any environmental issues are carefully monitored by ourselves and Control Union, a highly respected global certifier of organic and eco-friendly farming.
“The remainder of the coconuts that are bought in Sri Lanka, for producing our non organic oil, are grown by self subsistence farmers who either wild harvest or cultivate small quantities to augment their other cash crops. These are, of course, also grown without the use of pesticides or chemicals.
“As the longest established specialist importer of Cold Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil in to the UK we also pride ourselves in our active engagement to improve the eco-friendliness of our products. In West Africa, for instance, we are partnering a great initiative involving a group of 5 village co-operatives who have set up an amazing sustainable coconut farming project. This involves the ‘Wild Crafting’ of our Coconoil Africa virgin coconut oil which is also cold pressed.
“The coconuts are wild harvested along the coast line of Ghana and cracked on site before the meat is carried back to the villages where it is later broken down, mixed with clean well water and then the oil hand squeezed in to large vessels for the oil to separate. After about 24/36 hours the top few inches of oil is taken away to become virgin coconut oil for Coconoil. About another 25% of the container content is used locally as cooking oil whilst the remainder of the, still highly nutritious, oil and water mixture is drained off via pipes to market gardens to help increase yields or in to large fish ponds dug out by the villagers. This helps improve both nutritional and commercial well being of the villagers. The remaining flesh from the process is fed to either pigs or chickens and the resultant muck is fed in to bio gas tanks also to be used by the villagers. Having this resource stops the villagers cutting down the jungle for firewood to cook with.
“There will inevitably be growth in our product and we welcome that. However, with careful management and good customer support I strongly believe that the market for cold pressed virgin coconut oil, owing to its small batch hand crafted extraction process, can grow steadily and in harmony with nature and the environment.
“In my view it is as big a crime to under utilize Nature’s resources as to over utilize Nature’s resources. We at Coconoil endeavour to reach as good a balance as we possibly can.”