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Strategies For The 21st Century : Economic Sustainability For Coconut Producers In International Markets

An exam ination of the conflicting perceptions about coco­nut oil in the international market is provided here. It is generally seen that the relative advance that coconut oil has made in the past several years is due almost exclusively to the increasing attacks on its major competitor, the partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (which contains trans fatty acid), by the scientific/medical research commu­ nities. Coconut oil, still a lightening rod for the anti-saturated fat cam­ paign in the U.S., faces a possible long-term, biotechnological threat from altered rapeseed. It also, along with the other saturated fats, faces a diabolical threat from an implacable foe that wants the U.S. government to rename scientific terms by force of law. This paper also describes how coconut oil is viewed by food manufacturers and edible oil traders in the U.S., Japan and Europe, whose concern is the marketability of the oil and its competitors. The small-island producing nations have unique problems and are dif­ ferently affected by coconut oil's status. While some agricultural commodities produced in the tropics have been promoted through development assistance projects by major donor nations (e.g. U.S., Japan, Australia, etc.), these nations are now scaling back their support, opting instead for assistance in the area of industrial infrastructure. Coconut, a major tree crop, has not widely benefited from its status as a truly sustainable crop.

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