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Friday, March 17, 2017

Tender Coconut around the world: My findings!

This post was long overdue. To share my findings about tender coconut in various countries I visited

Of the 22 countries I have visited so far, about 10 of them had availability of tender coconut for sale. Quick summary in below table, detailed notes after that.
  • Cheapest country abroad for tender coconut (in prorated INR terms): Srilanka (INR 25 onwards)
  • Most innovative country selling tender coconut and its variants: The Philippines (Flavored, toppings etc- Details in the bottom)
  • Country that seem to be exporting coconuts extensively- Thailand (Found them in Macau, Australia, Singapore)
  • Countries where Tender coconut is available but very hard to find: Australia
  • Countries where finding tender coconut is extremely easy: Thailand, Srilanka
#
Country
Cities
Ease of finding
Cost (Local currency
Cost (INR)
Remarks
1
Australia
Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney
Difficult
6.5 AUD
325
Select super markets only. They won’t cut it open to let us eat the meat inside
2
India
Several
Easy in South, Difficult in North
Rs 5 to 50
5 to 50
Available for Rs 5 in Kolkata (very small ones). Good ones cost between INR 30 to 50 in most South Indian cities

Available online, powder and tetrapacks
3
Indonesia
Bali
Easy
7000 to 25000 IDR
42 to 150
Expensive near tourist places, cheaper elsewhere. Huge in size, lots of water.

Tetrapacks available for 11-15000 IDR
4
Macau
Macau
Difficult
25 to 45 MOP
250 t0 450
Available in supermarkets for about 25 MOP, take away only. Available in some grocery shops for 20-25 MOP, availble in Galaxy Macau for 45 MOP
5
Malaysia
KL, Melaca
Very easy
3 to 5 MYR
60 to 100
Check snowball version here
6
Maldives
Male
Easy
6 to 7 MVR
25 to 30

7
Philippines
Manila, Cebu, Palawan
Medium
25-30 PHP
50 INR
Easy to find in islands. Coconut milkshake, flavoured variants available
8
Singapore
Singapore
Medium
2.5 SGD to 4 SGD
120-200 INR
Cheapest around Mustafa centre, available mainly in Little India area, hard to find elsewhere
9
Srilanka
Colombo, Male, Kandy
Very easy
50 LKR
25 INR

10
Thailand
Several
Very easy
40 baht onwards
70-80 INR
160 baht in 5 star resort
At following countries I couldn't find tender coconut during my visit
Belgium, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden,
Switzerland and USA

Hong Kong and USA I feel I didn't search enough. It is possible that they have but I couldn't locate the right shop. Other countries- All of them in northern Europe, didn't have any availability of tender coconuts in supermarkets, malls or on the street.

Some special mentions
1 The Philippines
Philippines seem to have lots to offer w.r.t to tender coconut. They are known locally as Bukos. Besides selling them by the roadside like in India, I found that they sell it as milkshake and also offer flavored versions and toppings. Price is reasonable, finding one is easier in islands of Palawan, Cebu but difficult in Manila

Below are photos an exclusive coconut shop inside a mall in Cebu, Philippines. Tender coconut is served in several flavors, sizes and with toppings, for reasonable price (35 PHP onwards)



2 India
I don't have to explain much. Tender coconut is available throughout the year in most south Indian cities, price ranges between Rs 30 to 50 in most cases. I have seen roadside vendors selling super small size coconuts for Rs 5 and 7 in Kolkata. Few vendors in Pondy were selling decent size one for Rs 15. Cheaper in Karnataka but expensive in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Past few years have been great for coconut. People are realizing side effects of aerated drinks and slowly moving away from colas. Read news that Coca Cola is planning to launch its tender coconut drink in India. Here’s a news about Coconut cafes (dedicated shops selling coconut in flavors and associated products) coming up adjacent to highway in Karnataka

Now tender coconut is available online as well (Read detailed experience here). Tender coconut is also available in powder form- just add water and consume. Many startups have been focusing on tender coconut door delivery etc. Best wishes to them.

I found coconut in North India too- Jodhpur in particular- but in general very hard to find in most of north India.
3 Indonesia (Bali)
Found one even before I reached my hotel from airport. Stopped on the way at a local and drank a big coconut for 10000 Rupaiah. Next day, near Tanha Lot when I was quoted 15000 to 25000 IDR, I instantly knew they were trying to charge a premium because of tourist location. Managed to find smaller stores away from tourist spots and drink lots of tender coconut at reasonable prices. Taste was not as good as India ones-Few were tasting very bland but that’s the risk one has to take. No sure shot way to predict the taste.

4 Thailand
Thailand has plenty of coconut supply- sold by the roadside like in India. They also export it to several countries around the world, partially chopped and wrapped well in plastic. I found Thai tender coconuts for sale in Macau, Australia and Singapore, price increased by 2-3 times. Thai vendors use spoon in most cases- I showed few vendors that they can chop a side of the coconut and use it as spoon. Taste is usually good. My 2012 post has more details on Thai tender coconuts.

5 Srilanka
The tiny island nation has great source of coconut trees. Many villagers sell tender coconut at very reasonable price- about 50 LKR in most cases. What I liked about them is that they don’t quote higher price just because you got down from a car. Multiple variants- red, green, brown etc are available, size and taste very similar to India

6 Maldives
Found few shops during my early morning walk. Locally grown, very similar to India

No, that Scoopy is not rented by me.

7 Macau
I wasn't expecting to find coconut in Macau, but I did. A supermarket in Taipa was selling coconuts, but only as a takeaway, for around 22 MOP (INR 200 approx). I didn't have any sickle to cut it open so couldn't buy that. These coconuts were imported from Thailand.

Later found a grocery shop that sold tender coconut-after drinking the water took it to the guy for cutting- he wasn't prepared for that. With my gestures explained him that I really really want him to cut it open- finally he obliged. Few other customers who were waiting at the billing counter were cooperative to my request that took extra time from the staff
Resorts like Galaxy Macau do sell tender coconuts in their restaurants, but for twice the price (42 MOP) and with branding (see photo below)
8. Malaysia
Malaysia like Thailand has good supply of tender coconut. Little difficult to find one in heart of KL city, but available easily near most tourist spots like Batu caves, Melaka etc. I was smitten by this snowball version. Watch video below, details here.
9. Australia- available in some supermarkets/malls, not on streets

10 Singapore- available in little India area, around Mustafa centre. Cheapest around Mustafa centre

Europe- I have been to 10 countries in Europe so far and haven’t managed to find coconut anywhere. There are media reports of Indian coconuts getting exported to Europe- may be It was to UK. It is also possible that I didn't search enough. Most of my trips were short ones over the weekend

Additional notes:
There're lots of things to observe in tender coconut than just drinking it
1 How it is cut open
In Thailand and in some part of Philippines standard practice is to make four incision in square shape to gain entry to the core and drink using a straw.

In India, Srilanka, Malaysia, Maldives standard practice is to chop off the top portion till water is accessible. If the vendor is not careful enough, some water spills out in this process.

However I also saw in Palawan that few vendors quickly drill a hole good enough to insert a straw and serve it. We also have devices that can drill a hole into tender coconut- read my 9 year old post on that- but it usually works on really really tender coconuts and not ripe ones.

2 Eating the inside meat
Only roadside vendors are very comfortable to cut the coconut in half and let you eat the inside meat. Most malls and supermarkets that sell coconut are not equipped to serve you the inside. After paying massive 6.5 AUD (INR 350) in a Melbourne mall, I had to discard the coconut shell without eating the inside contents.

3 Inside volume: 
External size doesn't always hint at volume inside. Tender coconuts in Philippines and Bali are both huge in size and also have lots of water inside. The wall is fairly thin like you see in photo below
In many other parts of the world a large size coconut may have really small shell inside and a smaller looking one may have much more water. Very hard to predict.

4 Parcel:
Indian vendors have good way of attaching two coconuts together. I haven't tried taking coconut as parcel abroad, so not very familiar how clever they are in tying a knot between two coconuts and enabling easy transport.

5 Presentation
Most roadside vendors just dump them on the ground. In Bali, many shops have this customized stands on which they present a few coconuts and maintain rest of the stock inside. In supermarkets usually well dressed versions are maintained (top portion chopped off, wrapped in plastic and some branding)

Many shops in Thailand and Malaysia maintain a few inside refrigerator/cooler.

Worldwide people are realizing health benefits of coconut and it is gaining its due importance. Its advantages are many and undisputed. Do share your thoughts and comments.
Indian Bloggers

14 comments :

Sujata Tawde said...


Good Morning Shrinidhi. AS usual, perfectly well researched post about Tender Coconuts. And We do hope for a post about Health benefits of Tender coconut water + Malai ( meat is such a umm word for us vegetarians ) . We would like to read how / when / why you crave for tender coconuts and how freshened / rejuvenated you feel after drinking the Elixir. Confession : I too love Tender coconut.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Sujatha for your comments, support and the revelation!

I don't have words to describe "how / when / why I crave for tender coconuts"... it is very natural to me...

Arun said...

Hi Shrinidhi,
In the USA, one can find tender coconuts in Florida and Hawaii. Maybe a few other states as well.
Regards,
Arun

Preeti Chauhan said...

You do have a tender spot for tender coconuts !

Dhananjaya Murthy said...

You have great In depth details of tender coconut, i am not sure about your visit to Cambodia. In my view cambodia tender coconuts are too good in terms of taste&size. Price is very decent . I am sure if you try Cambodia's tender coconut, you will be keep visiting again and again only for tender coconuts nothing else.

B P Bhat said...

That was a jolly good article.

Keep it up.

R Niranjan Das said...

Interesting findings!

Ami said...

This was a fun post. Flavored coconut water....and a shop for the same. Interesting stuff!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Ami- Thanks. Coming in India (karnataka) soon I guess

@Niranjan- Thanks

@ BPB- THanks

@Dhananjay- Cambodia is on the cards, next year.

@Preeti- I do! Thanks

@Arun- Thanks for the input. Will check it out whenever I get to visit

divsi said...

Extremely interesting post. You have compiled the best of your findings in this. The ones with toppings is so unique :D
To add to the list, Burma has coconuts too. Really really really heavy and the water doesn't seem to end. The cheeks start paining! :D

TeamG square said...

Wow, well compiled post.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks TGS and Divsi

I will go to Burma some day!

Abdul Rahiman Cheruvattam said...

Very interesting & well compiled information Thanks Shrinidhi

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thank you!