We caught up with Tim Rees, Managing Director of Vita Coco UK to talk about why we should all be including coconuts in our diet in the from of oil or water and the benefits of using it as a skin and hair product. He shares his thoughts on whether it's a beauty trend that's here to stay and the importance of sourcing coconuts from remote parts of the world.
Please tell us about the process from picking to packing your coconut water.
All our coconuts are sustainably sourced from small family farms, who we work with closely through the Vita Coco Project. Through the project we have positively impacted 28,300 farmers through training programmes, awarded over 60 scholarships and built 30 classrooms…and that’s really the just the start of what we want to achieve. We source our coconuts farms from all over the tropics from Brazil to The Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand. We crack over 2 million handpicked coconuts a day, which are typically cracked and packed within 72 hours into our recyclable Tetra Pak. The liquid inside each coconut makes up our water, while the coconut meat is used for our oil and milk. Our factories even use the husk as a fuel source, and lastly, our farmers place used husks around palm trees as a natural fertilizer.
What are the benefits of including coconuts in our diet in the form of coconut water or oil?
Coconut water is low in sugar and packed with naturally occurring electrolytes, including potassium. A 500ml carton contains your daily dose of vitamin C, which can help support your immune system along with other benefits! It is the ideal drink for post-work out, as a base to smoothies (or cocktails!) or even on a hangover…! It’s incredibly refreshing, a great thirst quencher. Coconut oil is a MCT oil, which means that it’s full of ‘good fats’ compared to some other oils. Coconut oil can be used in baking as a vegan substitute to butter, or replace oil such as sunflower or vegetable oil in any meal.
Coconut oil has been hugely popular as a multi-use beauty product so what are the long term benefits of using coconut oil on the skin and hair?
Coconut oil is a jar of wonders. Our motto is: eat it, wear it, swear by it. Coconut oil isn’t just an excellent body moisturiser, it’s also a great make-up remover, after-sun, shaving balm…some people even use it as deodorant or for teeth pulling! We also include coconut oil in our haircare products as coconut oil moisturises and locks hydration in your hair.
Do you think this is a beauty trend that is here to stay?
Absolutely. So much so that we launched our latest addition to the Vita Coco portfolio, our Vita Coco Haircare Range (Nourish, Scalp & Repair). We saw there was a consumer desire for products powered by nature (coconuts) underpinned with true sustainability credentials, so we naturally strengthened our place in the beauty sector. Our coconut oil has played in the beauty area for a while, so it seemed like a natural move to further unlock the power of coconuts!
Please tell us about your Give, Grow, Guide project.
Coconut farming communities in remote parts of the world face many challenges, including weak infrastructure, outdated farming practices, and a shortage of schools. Through our give, grow, guide philosophy we work to help our coconut farmers increase their annual yield, diversify their crops and grow their coconuts sustainably. We also provide educational programs in order to invest in the future generations of these communities.
How can coconut water and oil be incorporated into cooking?
Coconut water & coconut oil are very versatile when it comes to cooking. Our wonder ingredient, coconut oil, can be used in baking as a vegan substitute to butter, or replace oil such as sunflower or vegetable oil in any meal. When it comes to smoothies and cocktail mixers, our Pure and Pressed coconut water are the perfect ingredient: they also are much lower in sugar compared to your usual mixer. Some consumers even use our coconut water in curries. Check out our Instagram pages for endless recipes.
What is next for you?
Like any business, we want to continue to grow rapidly, but do this with purpose at our core, using the business as a force for good benefitting both our farming communities and also our local communities. All industry analysis expects the coconut water category to double again in the next few years and we’ll be driving that, both through our Pure Coconut Water as well as offering new ways for people to enjoy the health benefits of all things coconut.
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