New coconut water products quintuple globally over past five years

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 5th June 2013

Coconut water has taken the global beverage industry by storm, growing by 540 per cent between 2008 and 2012, according to new findings from global research organisation Mintel.

New product launches containing coconut water were dominated by North America, with 35 per cent of global coconut water introductions in 2012, up from just 17 per cent in 2008. Europe followed with 34 per cent of new products launched in 2012, up from 13 per cent in 2008, while Asia Pacific accounted for 14 per cent in 2012, up from 9 per cent in 2008. Latin America, however, saw a decline in new product launches containing coconut water, with 16 per cent of introductions in 2012, compared with 61 per cent in 2008.

“Coconut water contains naturally high levels of electrolytes, including potassium, calcium and magnesium, which have made it popular as a sports drink for natural foods consumers,” said Jonny Forsyth, Global Drinks Analyst at Mintel.

“Coconut water is doing particularly well in the US because both sports recovery drinks and vitamin-enhanced waters are well-established – much more so than in other countries – meaning that people already buy into the benefits of electrolytes in a beverage. Sales of the product have also been helped by its rapid take-up among celebrities and high-profile investments from beverage companies,” Mr Forsyth said.

In terms of product claims, ‘low fat’, ‘no fat’ or ‘reduced fat’ are the most popular, accounting for 47 per cent of all coconut water claims in 2012. ‘Low/no/reduced allergen’ and ‘gluten-free’ followed, accounting for 43 per cent of all coconut water claims. ‘Environmentally friendly packaging’ accounted for 42 per cent of claims, and ‘natural’ for 40 per cent.

Coconut oil also popular

The popularity of coconut is not limited to beverages, according to Mintel. Similar to coconut water products, coconut oil products have flooded the market.

Overall, the use of coconut oil in food and beverages has accounted for 26 per cent of food and drink new product launches in 2012, up from 15 per cent in 2008. With reference to coconut oil used exclusively as oil, the growth over the past five years was even more apparent, with 780 per cent growth between 2008 and 2012.

The top five claims attached to new launches of coconut oils are ‘vegetarian’ (featured on 53 per cent of coconut oil in 2012), ‘premium’ (38 per cent), ‘organic’ (38 per cent), ‘all natural product’ (21 per cent) and ‘no additives/preservatives’ (17 per cent).

“The profiles of coconut water and oil have been raised by the multitude of purported health benefits linked to their consumption,” said Laura Jones, Global Food Science Analyst at Mintel.

“Coconut oil has been implicated in strengthening the immune system, as well as helping to prevent obesity. Coconut oil is also promoted as being cholesterol free, although it still contributes to cholesterol, and as an oil that can raise the ‘good’, high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Moreover, coconut oil could particularly appeal to vegans, who prefer a saturated fat source from plant foods,” Ms Jones said.

Coconut palm sugar growth

After coconut water and coconut oil, coconut palm sugar is also increasing in popularity, according to Mintel. Although still a niche product, coconut palm sugar posted a 320 per cent growth in product launches between 2008 and 2012. While ‘organic’ was the most popular claim (84 per cent), in 2012, nearly a third (28 per cent) of launches claimed to be ‘low/no/reduced glycaemic’ and ‘vegan’. Moreover, 24 per cent of new launches claimed to be ‘low/no/reduced allergen’ and ‘GMO free’, and 20 per cent to be ‘natural’.

“Attention is centred on the nutritional benefits of coconut palm sugar, namely its low glycemic index (GI),” Ms Jones said.

“Moreover, it has a natural image, as it is unrefined, free from chemical bleaching and has no preservatives, hence the natural positioning. The recent attention around coconut palm sugar has also led to more gourmet positioned products being launched, such as Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Coconut Palm Sugar in Canada, Levy Madagascar Single Estate Dark Chocolate, Finland, and Kulau Gourmet Organic Orange Coconut Sugar in the Netherlands,” Ms Jones added.