We all know the old saying: If you love something, let it go. And in this case, we're looking at you, coconut-enthusiasts, because all your Vita Coco chugging and coconut-oil cooking habits have depleted the Caribbean of its coconut supply.
Per Bloomberg, the region’s experts actually flat out warned Americans that because of storms, droughts and more, entire farms have been wiped out. Because growers have not invested in new trees or fertilizers to counteract these losses, Caribbean plantations have shrunk about 17 percent since 1994, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
“It’s fair to say that at this pace, the Caribbean is running out of coconuts,” Compton Paul, coordinator of a regional coconut initiative at the Trinidad-based Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute, told Bloomberg.
In addition to the above hurtles (and menacing threats like Lethal Yellowing disease), the demand for coconuts is also astronomically high; Starbucks can’t even keep it in stock as a milk alternative, and with the artist Rihanna touting coconut water as her sports drink of choice, it truly is the new “It” fruit. The problem is that coconuts aren’t being farmed correctly anymore, even though the industry is slated to surpass $4 billion by 2019, according to Grub Street.
Dioni Siri, who owns his own trees and also buys from farmers in Nagua on the Dominican Republic’s north coast, suggests that coconuts are getting picked too early, and aren’t up to scratch.
“It’s not good enough,” Siri told Bloomberg. “Our biggest problem is that the farmers aren’t growing enough quality coconuts.”
Adds Vilma Da Silva, a farmer who started focusing on coconuts-for-water exports after the industry became lucrative: “We want to get into more international markets and export more but there aren’t enough farms to buy from.”
Melvin Bautista, who owns Coco Express del Caribe, one of the leading domestic coconut-water brands in the Dominican Republic says, however, there is only one solution to the problem.
“Start planting more coconuts,” he tells Bloomberg.
Fans of the fruit stateside, you better hope his advice is heeded -- and soon!