The twists and turns before we deliver it to you
What first comes to mind when I say coconut sugar?
Is it the sweet & caramel flavor that’s great for baking pies or cakes? The golden brown color of the crystals? The natural, sustainable, wholesome, and healthy properties encased in each of that tasty granules?
Maybe you’re wondering, where does this beautiful gift of God come from?
What process did it go through before becoming the golden high benefit tasty crystals that we know of?
In this article, let’s see the process of coconut sugar-making from the farmers, the processing to meet the international export standard, until the delivery for your consumption.
It all starts from the tree that’s been described by many cultures as the tree of life, the coconut tree. Every part of the tree can be used for many things. From fuel to food, you name it, the coconut tree has many uses compared to its counterparts. Hence the reason it’s called “the tree of life”.
Many of us recognize the coconut as the hairy dark brown colored fruit with a tough shell but with a soft inside of white sweet “meat”. But what comes before the fruit holds the true sweetness of the coconut tree, which is the flower.
Inside the coconut flower, there’s a gooey, wet, and thick yellow-colored, almost translucent sap that’s sweet and has notes of the distinct coconut flavor.
To extract it, farmers climb up to the trees and cut the tip of the flower. Then they contain the sap in gallon containers or, for a traditional approach, dried up bamboos that are tied right underneath the cut-tip of the flower.
This may cause issues, for one, the containers usually aren’t food-grade or had maybe been used for containing other things that can pollute the sap extract. The problem may also be present with using dried bamboo since many insects tend to live in the pores or cracks inside them.
Not only that, many of the farmers have little to no understanding of organic coconut sugar processing, contributing to the higher risk of food contamination.
So, to combat these issues and risks, Navil delivers food-grade containers to the farmers for free so that they can do the extraction process with a low chance of contamination. We then educate them to meet the organic food safety standards to further press this issue.
Not only that, but we then also deliver tools and equipments to help their work and streamline their process to achieve desirable and consistent sap.
Coconut Sugar Processing
After its 8-10 hour extraction, the sap is then boiled until it becomes the golden brown sugar that we know of. This process is most often done by small-scale farmers that use large skillets to dehydrate it. The process usually takes hours and requires a continuous overwatch to prevent it from burning.
Similar problems also occur as the process before, they usually lack the good quality standard equipment for processing the sugar.
So, you guessed it, Navil delivers them the tools they need. From the essential condiment to prevent the fermentation of (consist of dried mangosteen lime betel), Food-grade PVC Pipe to assist the extraction process, food-grade metal sieves to clear off unwanted material, and to the tiniest of things such as stickers to label the containers for traceability.
Because they also need to process the sap that’ll later become the sugar, Navil shares them the standard operational procedures (SOP) and supervise them on how to implement it in the process. Starting off with the safety procedure to climb the tree, the best practices to cut the flower, the boiling process, the straining, and the packing, it’s all communicated to the farmers that joins the Navil organic program.
All of these measures are to prevent food contamination and deliver the best quality product before it’s sent to Navil’s facility.
In the facility, the sugar will then follow through a streamlined process to elevate the sugar to meet the cutomer’s standard/expectations. For example, the cutomer wants a very dry-below 2% moisture content-sugar, light golden color, and unclustered/free-flowing sugar with that unique caramel flavor.
The refining process is designed as compact as possible to minimize human errors. Not only that, it’s made as efficient as possible so that the sugar won’t go through lengthy steps. This is due to the risk of contamination, the longer the coconut sugar processing, or the lesser it’s streamlined, the higher the risk of a contaminated end-product. The contaminants might be from the sweats of the workers, a single strand of hair, and even the tiniest dust that can pollute the sugar. So, this is why Navil made it compact.
“ok, ok, i get it, it’s all compact, how does it work actually?”
Well, it all starts when the sugar delivery from the farmers arrive to the warehouse by a truck. The sugar will then be de-loaded immediately and placed in an orderly manner and will then be labeled with the order number, the date of arrival, the weight per package (and in total), and how many packages there are in a pallet.
Next it’ll then be moved to the room right next to the warehoue where all the sugar will be dried, strained (both with screen mesh sieves and strong magnets), and packed. Afterwards, the sugar will be moved to the next room right next to it where the packages go through a metal detector to further ensure the product so that it doesn’t contain any sort of metal. Right after that, the packages will then be packed in individual cardboard boxes to prevent any damage that’ll lead to a tear on the plastic package.
All of the rooms are joined with one another, separated with walls, tight-lock doors, and plastic curtains to make sure that it’s not dusty and even sticky. So this is how the whole process work, all of it is to ensure the food safety of Navil’s products.
This is much safer compared to other companies that have different facilities for different processes, making the risk of an on-process contamination much higher.
Though the reason those companies build different facilities for different processes might be to increase the capacity of their production, Navil with a much compact built facility manages to produce products in high quantity. Take super fine coconut sugar powder for example, though a super fine powder is much harder to achieve compared to bigger-sized poweder, Navil still manages to produce large quantities of it for convectionary companies that most oftenly use it for chocolate making because of how desirable the fine granules are for the process.
Though the process sounds good enough, it can be improved. That’s why Navil is currently building a machine that makes it all much more effective. It works like this, when the sugar is inserted in the machine, it’ll be dried, strained, and packed directly to the plastic container where it’ll all be sealed and dropped to a conveyor belt to the metal detection machine in one go.
This is much more efficient and has much lesser room for human errors to occur since the process will not be needing any unnecessary lengthy steps to achieve the end-product.
We expect the machine to be up and running by the end of this year.
So you see?
We put effort into delivering the product to you, and we ensure that all the process is safe and measured so that you’ll have that tasty, malty, sweet coconut sugar that you love.