10 Dec 2018

Spreading the good oil further

5:10 pm on 10 December 2018

A New Zealand businessman wants to revitalise coconut farming in the Pacific which he hopes will lift communities out of poverty.

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Photo: 123rf.com

Chris Nathan plans to build five coconut oil extraction plants around the region to meet expanding market demand.

The first plant, to be built in Fiji, will cost his company, Cocavo Ltd, $US12 million.

Mr Nathan said he was annoyed governments distributed aid money to island nations that did not seem to filter down to the farmers.

"The only thing that is going to save these countries is to revitalise the coconut industry. How do we change the lives of these people and how do we get the benefits down to the grassroots, down to the farmers," Mr Nathan said.

Cocavo has a contract to provide US retail giant Walmart with blends of extra virgin coconut and avocado oil worth $US30 million dollars a year.

Mr Nathan said he could sell coconut oil extraction technology to Indonesia, India or Sri Lanka, but he was more interested in helping New Zealand's Pacific Island neighbours.

While construction of the plant was under way in Fiji, talks were being held for others in Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.

Each extraction plant could be capable of processing 50 million coconuts annually to produce 4500 tonnes of extra virgin oil, valued at $US5 per kg wholesale.