GEORGE TOWN: Local coconuts have been dumped at plantations and warehouses in the country as imported coconuts from neighbouring countries are the preferred choice of Malaysians because of cheaper prices.
This has led to an outcry from suppliers of local coconuts as they need to clear their stockpile before the fruits turn bad or germinate.
Supplier A. Anbarasan, 64, said this is the first time such a thing had happened since he ventured into the trade business 27 years ago.
“The sale of coconuts has dropped by more than two-thirds this year alone.
“Usually, I could distribute an average of 350,000 coconuts monthly, but now I can only sell between 100,000 and 120,000 coconuts monthly since April.
“In Perak alone, I have about 70,000 husked coconuts stored in Sitiawan and about 300,000 dehusked coconuts at a plantation in Bagan Datuk,” he said in an interview.
Anbarasan estimated that there could be “a few million” unsold coconuts as many suppliers in other states say they are in the same boat.
Anbarasan, who also sells fresh coconuts at two stores in Jalan Penaga and Jalan Abu Siti on Penang island, believes that the market has been flooded with cheaper coconuts from Indonesia and Thailand, thus causing an oversupply in the local market.
“Our local plantations produce enough coconuts for consumers. But because the local ones are of better quality, the price is more expensive. And consumers just want to go for cheaper coconuts,” he said.
Anbarasan said the market price for Malaysian coconuts is between RM1.20 and RM1.50 each, but those from Indonesia could fetch as low as 80 sen to RM1 each.
“If you import coconuts from Indonesia, one tonne or about 1,000 coconuts cost only RM550, or 55 sen each,” he said.
Anbarasan’s wife P. Sarasvathy, 60, who helps in his coconut drink trade in Lorong Abu Siti, said that local coconut water is more fragrant and creamier in texture.
“Our local coconut milk can be sold for RM9 per kilo but those from Indonesia cost only RM5 per kilo because they are of poor quality.
“However, the coconuts from Indonesia are usually bigger in size.
“I have tried ordering a tonne of Indonesian coconuts before and half of them were spoilt because they were not fresh. The coconut milk tends to be a bit watery too,” she said.
The couple urged the government to look into the matter seriously and put a halt to imported coconuts to safeguard the local coconut industry.
Time is also running out for another coconut supplier, A. Loganathan, 49, in Lorong Selamat.
“I have over 200,000 coconuts hanging in the trees and only about a month left to pluck them.
“It’s hard to sell them nowadays. Once they germinate, the coconuts cannot be sold for its milk but only for production of oil,” he said, adding the coconuts have been left unplucked to preserve their freshness.
Loganathan, who has been in the business for 25 years, said he is disappointed that many buyers have opted for Indonesian coconuts.
“The quality of coconuts from Indonesia is ‘totally out’, but people don’t seem to mind because the price is cheaper.
“If you go to the market, you can find that our local coconuts are far better and much juicier,” he said.