Inside the Life of a Coconut

By: iTi Innovation


A coconut takes a full year to develop from a flower into a ripe nut. During this time the fruit of the typical coconut passes through 3 phases:

  • Phase 1:Even before the nut is ripe, when it is bright green, one may drink the water. However, it’s important to realize that harvesting pre-maturely is not a sustainable model.
  • Phase 2: After the green stage the nut begins to ripen. On the outside, it slowly turns yellow. Inside, a thin white layer of pulp begins to develop.
  • Phase 3:The nut continues to ripen, the outside becomes harder and the white meat thickens, eventually hardening with time.

Harvesting these phase 3 crops is the most sustainable model for the coconut business. A fully ripened coconut!

Virtually every part of the coconut palm can be used at this stage and has significant value.  An exception is the Thai fragrant variety which is mainly grown and harvested for the young green coconut water.

There are a few other varieties that are grown solely for water in places such as Sri Lanka and the Dominican Republic.  The water available from these varieties is only a tiny fraction of what would be needed to sustain a market for coconut water.

Today we estimate that 95% of all coconut water sold comes from the fully ripened coconut.  Water from fully ripened coconuts is loaded with electrolytes.  We see no significant difference between coconuts that are harvested at their fully ripened stage and those being pre-maturely harvested.

Its no wonder the coconut tree is often called the “tree of life” or the “tree of giving”. Check out all of the wonderful purposes the coconut serves when harvested sustainably:

  1. Coir is the natural fiber which is extracted from the husk. Coir is often used in common household products such as floor mats, doormats, brushes, mattresses, and more.
  2. The brown shell can be used for fuel or activated carbon
  3. The thick white meat can be processed into desiccated coconut, coconut cream, coconut milk, coconut oil or virgin coconut oil – products we at iTi are passionate about supplying to our customers.
  4. And finally, another product we are passionate about supplying, the sweet, hydrating fluid found in the center – coconut water! Coconut water is either packed in Tetra for the retail market or processed into coconut water concentrate to be shipped to export markets.

However, there is the challenge of the low brix of raw materials when packing at origin. This is why so many brands are adding sugars, either declared or undeclared. In addition, shipping single strength coconut water for export is not the most environmentally friendly option.

At iTi, we are committed to supplying the highest quality ingredients in the most sustainable ways possible. Contact us for more information about products or to connect with a member of our innovation team. Plus, for more information on added sugar in coconut water please request the White Paper by clicking here.

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