FAQ > Ingredients & Nutrition! > Is Coconut Palm Sugar bad for coconut trees?

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There have been many rumors spread around the internet about how Coconut Palm Sugar is actually a negative product.  We work very closely with Big Tree Farms to ensure that our ingredients are not only of the highest organic quality, but also are of the highest integrity.  Here is Big Tree Farms' response to these rumors:

I have heard and read rumors that Coconut Palm Sugar hurts the coconut tree and farmers dont make enough money selling coconut sugar.  Is this true? 

  • The simple answer to this is - NO.  There is a rumor being spread on the internet that the production of coconut palm sugar "sacrifices" the coconut fruit and that this is a negative and that consumers need to be warned of this.  This is very misleading.
  • It is true that in order to collect the coconut flower blossom nectar, the source of coconut palm sugar, that the coconuts do not fruit.  Yet, what the company spreading the rumor does not say is that, like any fruit tree, the coconut tree produces multiple flower blossoms and it is up the farmer to either allow the flower blossom to form into fruit, collect the nectar or a combination of both.  Below is a picture that shows the multiple spears of coconut flower blossoms that the farmer can choose what to do with.
  • The question the company spreading the rumor does not ask is "why would the farmer prefer to collect flower blossom nectar than sell the coconut fruit"?  The answer is because the farmer makes more money selling the coconut palm nectar than coconuts!  
  • Coconut farmers are some of the most impoverished farmers in the world and selling coconuts, with no added value at the farm level, keeps the farmers in poverty.  This is why our coconut palm sugar program has been so successful; because we have increased farmer's incomes by over 50%!  What would you do?
  • Farmer's are paid about $0.10 per coconut fruit; if they are lucky.  This coconut is purchased by middlemen and then sold at a higher price to the larger processors that make coconut water, coconut oil or coconut meat.  The farmers receive no added value income when they sell just the coconut fruit, keeping them in poverty.
  • Coconut palm sugar production MUST be initially processed by the farmer, therefore bringing more value add to the farmer and the farmer making more money.
  • The coconut tree produces on average 50 fruits per year.  This is only 50 coconuts per year, per tree!  At $0.10 per coconut, the coconut farmer is making $5.00 per year, per tree.  This is $0.42 cents per month or a little over $0.01 per day!  Now you can see why coconut farmers are some of the poorest farmers in the world and why it is so important to bring more value to the farm level.  A farmer needs to have a lot of coconut trees in order to make any kind of decent living from growing coconuts and selling just the coconut fruit for production of coconut oil, coconut water or shredded coconut.
  • There is a plethora of information on the internet that clearly exposes the truth of the coconut farmer and the need to increase their income.
  • The company spreading the rumor clearly states, "So the next time you think about purchasing some coconut palm sugar, you need to ask yourself, “Do I need this more than I need coconut oil, dried coconut, or coconut flour? Am I willing to pay a higher price for coconut oil and other coconut products so that more trees can be sacrificed for coconut palm sugar production, or at some point even go without these products just so I can have coconut palm sugar?”.  Trees are not sacrificed and the production of coconut palm sugar does not effect the price of coconut oil.
  • There is absolutely NO shortage of coconut trees in this world.  Anyone who has traveled in the tropics knows that coconut trees are EVERYWHERE.  The issue is that the proximity of these trees to the large processors that make the coconut oil, coconut water or coconut meat.
  • There is no shortage of coconuts on the global market.  There is only a shortage of factory capacity and effort of companies willing to work with the coconut farmers to create solutions to their condition of poverty.  
  • We work directly with over 5,000 farmers on Java, increasing their incomes by over 50% by bringing added value to the farmer.
  • Coconut oil, like coconut palm sugar, is a wonderful food product produced by the coconut tree.  We are fans of coconut oil, use it in our diet and are confident, based on years of experience, that both products can and are being produced, simultaneously, without any harm to the coconut tree.  
  • Yet, the bottom line, is that coconut farmers make more money collecting the nectar than just selling the coconut fruit and the mission of our company is to help impoverished farmers earn more income so they can live in health and prosperity.

For more information on Coconut Palm Sugar and Big Tree Farms' products and practices, read their full FAQ section here:

Last updated on July 31, 2012 by Vanessa Barg