For as long as industrialization has existed, each valuable fruit of nature man has discovered has been used for different purposes in a variety of ways. Among them, coconut particularly has a very long history of use in its natural and processed form.
As a whole, the coconut comprises four parts: the husk – made up of coir, the shell – the brown hairy-like shell we recognize the coconut by, the flesh – the edible part known as the coconut “meat”, and coconut water. For the most part, the coconut products we use today are derived from the coconut “meat”.
Copra is a term that refers to sun-dried or smoked coconut “meat” or “flesh”, the edible part of a coconut. For as long as coconut has been industrialized, smoked or sun-dried coconut “meat” has been extracted to make a very low-value commodity called copra.
Products derived from fresh coconut “meat” and sun-dried coconut “meat” (copra) are used for different purposes and are of different qualities.
What is Copra Used For?
Copra is mainly used to yield coconut oil, however, the byproducts themselves are used for additional purposes, mostly as food for livestock.
For the coconut meat to become copra, it goes through a drying process over the course of a few days. After removing the shell, the coconut is broken open, the coconut water is drained out, and the coconut meat is left to dry. The copra can be made by sun drying, smoke drying, or kiln drying. The drying process is usually done where the coconut palms grow. These areas are highly suitable for the process as they are hot and humid in climate. In today’s world, naturally growing coconut palms are still a great source of copra but the commercial plantations reign superior. Regardless of the source, once the copra is finally dry and ready, it is transported to industrial oil mills for processing.
The copra mills resemble sugar crushing mills and the process itself is very similar to that found in the sugar mills.