5 Fast Facts About the Coconut Oil Shortage

by | Updated: February 22nd, 2018 | Read time: 3 minutes

Coconut oil: is there anything it can’t do? Unfortunately, it can’t be made without pressing the meat of harvested coconuts. And thanks to a very pesky, growing population of a specific type of coconut-loving beetle, we may have a big problem on our hands. (And not the kind you can just rub coconut oil on to make it go away.)

So what’s actually going on here? Will we really run out of this tropical treasure? And although nothing will ever replace coconut oil in our hearts, is there anything else we can we put in our hair, on our skin and in our smoothies instead? Here are 5 things you need to know about the impending coconut oil shortage:

  1. What’s happening? A sudden boom of the nucifera beetle is overtaking popular harvest spots – the beetles’ new favorite thing to eat? You guessed it – coconut meat! And they’re so sneaky, some are going undetected. Several farmers reported hauling in a big harvest of hearty-looking coconuts, only to discover hollowed out shells.
  2. Why is it a problem? The beetles are hungry beasts, with a single colony eating upwards of 10,000 grams of coconut meat every 7 days. That’s 33 precious coconuts per colony per week!
  3. What’s being done about it? Both conventional and organic farmers are having problems preventing the beetles from harming their coconut crops. Existing natural pest control options are proving fruitless; farmers have begun working with entomologists to figure out a way to redirect beetle populations to another food source.
  4. When are we going to run out? Based on current demands, COCOS spokesman David Barron estimates a drastic decline in production of coconut oil (and other coconut-derived products) as early as January 2018. Yikes!
  5. What should I do!? If you’re already panicking at the thought of having frizzy hair, dry skin or sauteeing veggies with no help, there’s a bit of good news – there are other oils that have high smoke points suitable for cooking (like avocado oil, for instance), and a bevy of oils that may be beneficial for beauty woes (including jojoba oil and almond oil). And while nothing really comes close to the all-around happiness imparted by having a full jar of coconut oil, hopefully these backups will do the trick until the beetle situation is resolved.

Oh… there’s one thing we did forget to mention about the coconut oil shortage: HAPPY APRIL FOOLS’ DAY! Enjoy your coconut oil.

 

EDIT: It has been brought to our attention that amidst our quest to deliver a believable April Fools’ joke, we touched on a subject that’s actually very real for the people of Guam, Hawaii and American Samoa. The large coconut rhinoceros beetle (Oryctes rhinoceros) is a real pest that has popped up in several different places, decimating coconut palms (and other plants/crops) to feed on the sap.  It was not our intention to make light of this situation, but now that we are aware, we’d like to use this opportunity to educate everyone about its existence.

How can you help stop the spread of invasive species?
– Don’t mail or bring fresh fruits, vegetables or plants with you during international travel (unless cleared by agricultural inspection and/or Customs). By bringing or mailing undeclared plants or produce home or abroad, you may inadvertently introduce a new species to the area.
– Keep your property clean and clear of dead or dying plant material, as it makes an excellent food source for insects.
– Be aware of the animals and bugs that are native to your area and be on the lookout for any invasive species.
– If you see any suspicious pests, contact your local Department of Agriculture.