In this short series, we’ll be looking at new “Super Food” and trendy tropical export – the coconut. Although people in the Tropics have been happily enjoying them for centuries, the coconut is now making a big name for itself here in the UK.
We kick off the series this week focusing on Coconut Water, just in time to share the news that Rihanna has been named Brand Ambassador for Vita Coco, the biggest selling coconut water drink in the UK. Pop Icon Rihanna will star in Vita Coco’s first UK above the line advertising campaign “Viva Vita” and Rihanna will soon be on billboards across London dressed in a very fruity outfit to promote the brand.
Long gone are the days when UK consumers could only buy dessicated coconut in their local supermarket. Now we have a wide choice of products from coconut milk, coconut cream and coconut water to coconut oil and even coconut milk based frozen desserts now becoming more widely available.
The word coconut is derived from 16th century Portuguese and Spanish word cocos, meaning “grinning face”, from the three small holes on the coconut shell that resemble human facial features. Found across much of the tropic and subtropic area, the coconut is known for its great versatility and is part of the daily diet of many people. As well as the edible coconut flesh, the oil and milk derived from coconuts are commonly used in cooking and frying; coconut oil is also widely used in soaps and cosmetics. The clear liquid Coconut Water within is a refreshing drink. The husks and leaves can be used as material to make a variety of products for furnishing and decorating. The coconut also has cultural and religious significance in many societies that use it.
Coconut Water is not new to me. As a child I enjoyed drinking fresh Coconut Water from the young coconuts that my father would skillfully pierce open without spilling a drop. My travels around Southeast Asia as a young man also gave me the opportunity to enjoy fresh Coconut Water. Coconut Water is a very popular drink in Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa, and the Caribbean. In the heat of the Tropics, it is not unusual to see people enjoying the refreshing Coconut Water straight from the green coconuts with the simple aid of just a straw… it’s the tropical equivalent of the tetrapak drinks cartons we are used to in the West!
The ethnic communities found in major cities across the UK have always used fresh coconuts bought in Asian and Afro-Caribbean supermarkets as their source of Coconut Water. It is only recently that the major supermarkets and health food shops have now started to sell Coconut Water in the sterile cartons and bottles that Western consumers are familiar with… I can’t imagine many supermarket shoppers being comfortable attacking an unwieldy green coconut with the large knife that my father was so used to handling!
Benefits of Coconut Water
It rehydrates three times faster than water and is low calorie.
Coconut Water is a naturally fat free drink containing antioxidants and other minerals.
It is a fantastic natural hangover cure.
There have been cases where Coconut Water has been used as an intravenous hydration fluid in some developing countries where medical saline was unavailable.
Popular Brands of Coconut Water
Vita Coco – the UK’s biggest selling brand of Coconut Water. Available from Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose.
ZICO – promoted as a sports drink and for those with active lifestyles. Available from Tesco and Waitrose.
Image of Rihanna Vita Coco Advert reproduced from marketingweek.co.uk. All other images are courtesy of the author.
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