How Coconut Water Benefits Communities in the Philippines

What kind of tree is the ‘tree of life’? In the Philippines, the tree of life is the coconut tree, known for its ability to feed, heal, and protect the people and communities that rely on its fruit, leaves, and trunk.

At Kroger, our purpose is to Feed the Human Spirit™, so we understand the value of food, health, and community. That’s why we launched our Zero Hunger │ Zero Waste social impact plan last year. With our vision to end hunger and eliminate waste, we want our customers to know that we care about them and we care about the communities that we touch as a business.

In recent years, we have partnered with Fair Trade USA to bring more socially- and environmentally-conscious food, health, and beauty products to our customers, including coconut products from the Philippines. In fact, our Simple Truth™ brand includes more Fair Trade Certified™ products than any other private label grocery brand in the United States. 

The production of our Simple Truth Organic Fair Trade Certified coconut water is a great example of how these products benefit the communities and environment where coconuts are grown. The farming process for Fair Trade coconut involves meeting rigorous social and environmental Fair Trade standards that help farmers and workers create sustainable livelihoods in their communities. Those standards require that farmers use environmentally friendly growing techniques to protect soil and water health, as well as ecological biodiversity. When the coconut tree is processed, almost nothing is left behind.

To begin, coconuts are harvested from their trees by a farmer, who uses a long pole to knock them from the limbs, between twenty and sixty feet above the ground. The coconut that falls to the forest floor does not look like the brown, stringy ball that we typically imagine, though. Instead, it is a larger, smooth, green orb that the farmer will de-husk by piercing the outer green shell and peeling it away from the fibrous inner layer.

Next, the coconuts are transported to a production facility where they are hand-sorted to assure quality. Now, the fresh coconut water is harvested by a worker who pokes a hole in the shell with a drill-like machine and drains the coconut. The fresh coconut water is then packaged and ready to go.

For our resource-responsible farmers, that is not the end of the story. The rest of the coconut is also used and nothing needs to go to waste. The fleshy portion of the inside is harvested for coconut oil, lip balm, coconut flakes, coconut candles, and more, leaving behind a layer of brown husk. This remaining material can be used for things like packaging twine and as fuel for the coconut production facility.

Knowing that Fair Trade and Kroger are working together to support sustainable, healthy farming communities in the Philippines makes each sip of coconut water taste even sweeter.  Kroger is proud to support Fair Trade coconut farmers in the Philippines as we work together to move towards a world with Zero Hunger | Zero Waste.

Earlier this year, Kroger associates visited coconut farms in the Philippines to see first-hand the process of growing, harvesting and processing coconuts, as well as the social and environmental benefits of purchasing Fair Trade Certified ingredients for our products.