Processing Desiccated Coconut

This is the dried, shredded and sweetened (or unsweetened) coconut that used in cakes, biscuits, cake fillings, icings, candies, ice cream, puddings, sweet and many other food products. Most of the 50 million pounds or more of desiccated coconut imported annually in to the United Kingdom, and the comparable quantity going from the Philippines into the United States, are taken by the large confectionary and biscuit manufacturers. The United Kingdom has the highest per capita consumption of slightly less than 1 lb annually. The composition of desiccated coconut is very similar to that of copra.

The Franklin Baker Company Operations
This company maintains its own coconut processing plant in the Philippine islands to guarantee the ultimate in flavor, color, and purity, and to maintain maximum quality control and efficiency in coconut processing.

The Franklin Baker Company has been processing desiccated coconuts since 1900, and now uses the latest equipment, most advanced techniques, and impeccable quality control. In the world’s largest processing plant at San Pablo 12 million pounds of coconuts are processed annually. The new Davao plant located on the island of Mindinao is away from typhoon area.

The plant workers receive extensive employee training, rigid physical examination, color coded clothing, special bathing solutions, and frequent spot checking to control bacteria. Sanitary precautions include continuous steam blanching of all products, and the use of fluorescent lights for detecting traces of salmonella.

When received at the plant the coconuts are moved by conveyor belt to mezzanine platform and are loaded into cars containing 300 nuts each. The cars proceed to the sheller bins immediately over the sheller stations. In this way the sheller stations are kept supplied with nuts at all times.

In 1 plant there are 148 individual shelling stations (stalls) with a nut bin for each station. The shell is craked by expert “openers” using a hand tool similar to an oyster knife. The shell is cracked and then pried loose from the meat of the nut at the rate of four coconuts per minute per sheller. A sheller will open from 1600 to 1800 nuts per 8-hr shift. The plant requires 800,000 coconuts daily.

After the hard shell is removed, the shelled nuts roll through to the paring station opposite the sheller. It is especially important at this phase that the coconut kernel be kept whole, so as not to hinder the next operation of paring. The “parers” then remove the skin of the coconut with a special knife. The dark skin is removed and the nuts are placed on conveyor belts above the parer and carried to washing operation. While being washed the nuts are carefully inspected for discoloration.

After drying the coconut is graded to size by a series of sieves and the desiccated product is packed according to grade in moisture-proof containers. A portion of the desiccated coconut is reprocessed in tumbling mixers with powdered sugar, propylene glycol, salt, and added moisture to produce white sweetened coconut products. To produce the toasted variety, desiccated coconut is treated with powdered sugar, dextrose, and salt, and passed through an endless belt toasting oven.
Source: Guy, Jasper. 1970. Coconuts: production, processing, products. Avi publishing company: Westport.