Here in the jungles of Minneriya, as I write watching our supper being fished from the pond in front of my verandah www.ratmale.blogspot.com I have discovered another Sri Lankan product that beats the pants of all other cooking and edible oils on earth.
To my knowledge, I am the first person to market Organic Virgin Coconut Oil in Sri Lanka. I have connections with an Organic Estate in Kithulgala, Sri Lanka, which has just begun to produce Organic Virgin Coconut Oil(OVCO) from their coconuts. I am marketing it in a very small way to my customers. Of course my task is made more difficult as no one in Sri Lanka understands what OVCO is. One only needs to google it to know what an incredible and versatile oil it is. It is marketed in the US at US$25 for 440ml and I market at SL Rs300 for 375ml bottle.
Of course I did a quick survey of the cooking oils available at a local Food City, and apart from white coconut oil, which I also produce myself from my own Coconuts, all the oils were imports. There was Palm, Soya, Corn, Sunflower, Olive and some other vegetable oils, all imports I might add. A few outlets carry Sri Lankan Virgin Coconut oil marketed at Rs600 a bottle. I expect that either Food City or Keels will carry it once a suitable arrangement can be made with Paradise Farm, which has enquiries from the US for export. It is a labor-intensive, and the available organic coconuts are limited. Selling at Rs600 a bottle is not profitable, but defrays some of the labor costs of the estate.
Now what is Virgin Coconut oil and why is it so good, and arguably the best oil for both ingesting on its own or for cooking? I would recommend the reader to search for more info on the web, which would spark a more independent opinion of what I state.
This oil has medicinal, weight loss, and an ingredient in the manufacture of cosmetics. The most surprising fact is that it has taken so long for me to realize this. Upon investigation I have discovered that the US in trying to protect its Soya Bean industry, had made every effort to discredit any consumption of coconut oil, and I would also like to note that even the affluent households of Colombo are of the incorrect opinion that it is harmful, and so they purchase the even more questionable vegetable oils on the shelf, out of sheer ignorance. They believe the clever marketing, which the international companies are better at when compared with the sleepy local ones, including the culpable government which has not come out to defend and support it and therefore the industry.
Of course we are splitting hairs about organic as there are very few Coconut estates that are organically certified, but most household coconut trees are organic and is a product that can fairly easily be manufactured as a cottage industry, where a machine costing over Rs100,000 is required for the pressing process to be practical and economical.
So now that the manufacturing is sorted! it is as usual the ‘market stupid’ that needs to be made aware of this best product to grow. If that is done, I am sure that the cost of production and therefore the market price can be reduced to be competitive with imported vegetable oils and take a greater share of the local market from less healthy imports.