- The demand for coconut water in the developed world has soared from nearly zero to billions of gallons per year, as health-conscious consumers have developed a taste for the product.
- In some coconut-producing countries the demand for exports has skyrocketed 400% per year.
- The trees can't keep up. The majority of them were planted in the years following World War II. And given that coconut trees are most productive between the ages of 10 and 30 years, the elderly trees can't possibly meet demand.
We seem to be seeing a lot of these types of stories these days -- a formerly sleepy little product beloved by locals in the third world and a tiny number of global consumers is suddenly discovered by foodies. Things go badly. Think of quinoa. Or diposable chopsticks. Or chia seeds.
Such thing are the downside of a globalized economy. And it's unlikely that any politician, activist or well-meaning sort of any kind can help. The markets will find equilibrium. That's what markets do. But given that coconut trees take some time before they begin to produce food, we expect to see a continuing shortage, and higher prices, for coconut water for quite some time.