Coconut Coco Lopez

August 30, 1995
Rev. March 2012

The best known coconut product is cooking oil. This is extracted from copra (dried coconut meat), either with Anderson Expellers® or, much less commonly, in a solvent extraction process. The Anderson screw press exerts sufficient pressure to liquify the fat in the coconut; over five hundred have been sold for this purpose in the Philippines alone. Alternatively, hexane is the solvent used to dissolve the fat in the copra. The industry producing this high cholesterol cooking oil is centered in Southeast Asia.

Vincent machines do not have anything to do with producing coconut cooking oil. None of our presses will squeeze tight enough. However, there is a coconut product, Coco Lopez, which is produced with Vincent screw presses.

Coco Lopez was started with a government grant to the University of Puerto Rico. The project was funded in an effort to develop a new industry for the island commonwealth. The project was headed by a staff member (or student) by the name of Lopez, and in 1970 a Vincent VP-6 press was purchased and shipped to the University. Vincent’s Tampa sales representative, Art Lund, was instrumental in the project.

The product developed is known as Cream of Coconut. The most popular brand, Coco Lopez, is used as a cooking ingredient for a variety of main dishes and desserts; it is found on the shelves of most supermarkets. Also, pina colada mix is a very popular product.

Coco Lopez is produced from fresh shredded coconut meat. The coconuts are harvested, shucked, and shelled. The water in the coconut, especially from mature coconuts, is discarded. However, recently a strong market has been developed for this natural drink.

In the Americas the meat is removed from the shells either with a machete or, following boiling, with a spoon. In Asia the coconuts are shelled with a snag-tooth ripper.

The brown peel is removed from the meat, after which it is shredded or grated to a size similar to that of the flakes that are spread on cookies and cakes. At that point the meat is ready to be pressed in Vincent presses.

Generally, double pressing is employed, although the most progressive processors use triple pressing to obtain the highest yield. Usually hot water is added to the press cake after the first pressing. Large 16" presses are used for first pressing, while smaller 12’s and 10’s are used for second and third pressings. The rotating cone option is used to maximize yield.

Recently Series KP presses have been supplied with tapered shaft screws. The goal is to match the yield performance of the traditional Series VP and CP presses.

The white juice extracted from the coconut is referred to as coconut milk. It is screened and homogenized. Sometimes it is centrifuged and/or concentrated in an evaporator. With the addition of a great deal of sugar, Coco Lopez is produced.

The original project was so successful that Lopez left the University and commercialized the product. The industry was moved to the nearby Dominican Republic because the labor is cheaper and both coconuts and sugar cane are plentiful. Today there are half a dozen firms producing Cream of Coconut on the island. Ironically, the largest of these import their sugar from Guatemala because of lower cost and higher quality.

The greatest volume of coconut cream is produced in the Philippines. There a plant will run 400,000 to 500,000 coconuts a day. In the Dominican Republic, 60,000 a day would be a more typical figure.

 

Issue 31