Without knowing it, you’re easily buying kilos of coconut

1 in 20 products in the supermarket contain coconut. The most obvious are products containing coconut milk, coconut water or coconut fibres, but many more products secretly contain coconut in the form of oil: which is nutritious, has a neutral taste and only turns soft if it is above room temperature. Ideal for making ice cream that melts less quickly and biscuits that stay crunchy longer. It’s processed in products like sweets, biscuits, ice cream, sauces, coffee creamer, chocolate products and baby food.

5% of all products in the supermarket contain coconut

The average return per hectare of coconut is about $50 per year. With an average land area of 4 hectares and no other sources of income, this provides the farmer with an income of $200 per year: far below the poverty line of $1.90 per day.

In the Philippines, where most of the coconut we use in Holland comes from, about 56% of the coconut farmers, and 40% of the employees, live in poverty.

Farmers who don’t own enough land, often are forced to work as climbers on bigger coconut farms. They climb about 30 trees per day – the trees being up to 30 meters high. If they fall and are unable to work for some time they usually don’t have any income, which can be disastrous for both the farmer and his or her family.

The Netherlands can make a serious change

The Netherlands is the second largest coconut oil importer in the world. 89% of the value of all coconut products that we import is coconut oil. We immediately export a large part of this oil. However, a substantial part, 107 million kilos, is processed in the Netherlands. This is subsequently consumed or exported in products.

Approximately 16 million smallholder farmers are behind the coconut we use in the Netherlands. There is relatively little good research available about the employees on plantations and smallholder farmers. Fairfood estimates that number to be about 5 million.

Blockchain can guarantee fair wages

Paying coconut farmers a fair wage would seem simple, but the journey a coconut undertakes from tree to plate is long and complicated. We believe change is possible. To prove this we imported 1.000 fair coconuts from 55 Indonesian coconut farmers. These nuts aren’t certified, because there is no need for that: each step from tree to plate is mapped and recorded in detail, with blockchain technology. Put simply: each coconut will have an unique code, with this you can find out precisely who picked the coconut, and what price he or she received for it. Check our blockchained coconut here.

Now it’s the industry’s turn

If the Dutch food industry would pay a fair price for the 107 million kilos of coconut oil they process each year, that would make a huge difference for the farmers. That’s why we sent them a coconut alarm they couldn’t possibly ignore. What’s next? A lot of talking, convincing and building partnerships.