Producer To Plate: Nuts For Coconuts

written by Soni Adriance 9th February 2017

In recent years the coconut has gained prominence as a “superfood” for its versatility and numerous health benefits. We take a trip down to the Kentaste offices to learn more about the Kenyan company producing unprocessed coconut products.

Recently, it seems that everyone is raving about the magical properties of coconut. A quick Google search brings you testimonials by everyone from beauty bloggers to health enthusiasts, of the cosmetic and medical benefits of coconut oil. Hollywood stars and natural hair bloggers much closer home will swear by coconut oil as a way to keep your skin supple, teeth sparkly white and hair moisturized. Health bloggers detail how coconut products in their different forms can improve blood cholesterol levels, and gesture to the role that coconut oil plays in treatment of brain ailments such as epilepsy and Alzheimers. It seems that there is no end to the abilities of this “superfood”, whose potency is often ascribed to the presence of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), medium chain fatty acids which, when metabolized, go straight to the liver and serve as a source of energy.

Eat Out- Kentaste

This may explain the recent success of Kentaste, a Kenyan company producing a range of coconut-based products including coconut oil, milk, cream and desiccated coconuts. We spoke to Faustina Ning’a, the Sales and Marketing Associate at the Kentaste offices in Nairobi, in order to learn more about coconut oil and it’s benefits as well as to discover more about the history of Kentaste in Kenya.

Kentaste was founded in Mombasa in 2011 as a way to promote farmers in the coastal region and give Kenyans a taste of true Kenyan coconut flavour. Currently, the factory in Malindi works with 200 farmers all along the Kenyan coastline to manufacture their goods. Once harvested, the process of extracting nutrition and oil from coconuts is relatively simple: the shell is separated from the white flesh of the coconut then cold pressed to ensure the health benefits of are preserved. Throughout, no additives, deodorants or additional processes are used to ensure the final product is in it’s purest form. When producing coconut oil, the oil extraction is simply packaged in glass jars and sold. Fun fact: a single litre jar of coconut oil can contain upwards of 20 coconuts!

The same cold press technique is used for both coconut milk and cream. Thereafter, based on consistency, the milk is separated from the cream. The main difference between the two is fat content, with coconut milk containing less fat than cream. The overall process of extraction lends to the ‘virgin’ labeling on Kentaste products, signifying the use of a cold press, natural technique and designating the least refined coconut oil in the market.

As consumption of their products grew, in 2013 Kentaste conducted market research to learn more about how Kenyans were consuming their products. They found that the coconut oil that currently sits on the shelf with other cooking oil products was being used for cooking and eating raw.

However, they also discovered that a good amount was being used for cosmetic purposes which included enhancing hair growth, as skin lotion and ‘oil pulling’, meaning to swish a spoonful of coconut around in one’s mouth in order to clean and whiten one’s teeth. In the near future, Kentaste plans to use this market research to diversify their product offering on coconut value edition to put cosmetic products on shelves too. Although the coconut oil in the market can be used for the afore-mentioned cosmetic purposes, consumers new to the product may be unaware of its beauty benefits if placed on shelves next to other cooking oils.

Kentaste attributes their success to the natural benefits of coconut products. As consumers continue to be more experimental with this diverse product, the demand continues to grow. This Valentine’s day, why not rely on trusty coconut oil to give your partner a massage or whip up a delicious meal?

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