Sri Lanka desiccated coconut exports restrained by nut shortfall

Jan 21, 2008 (LBO) — Sri Lanka’s exports of desiccated coconut (DC) were far below the island’s potential last year due to insufficient coconuts to keep mills running, exporters said. Sunil Watawala, former president of the DC Millers Association, said DC is the island’s main kernel product that is competitive in international markets as local coconut oil prices are too high to be exported.

“The only thing we could export is DC,” he said. “But because of the shortage of nuts, DC mills have done only 45,000 metric tonnes (MT) in 2007.”

The industry usually manufactures around 60-70,000 MT annually. Exports peaked in 2000 when 82,735 MT were shipped.

DC millers and coconut oil mills struggled to get enough raw material last year as coconut prices shot up.

Local retail prices of fresh nuts are round 25-30 rupees per nut.

Coconut shortages are caused by bouts of dry weather which affect the harvest with a lagged effect of about a year.

Last year, the government banned raw nut exports for a short period and also allowed the import of 30,000 MT of copra for coconut oil mills and duty free import of coconut oil.

This was to prevent nut prices from rising