Coconut shortage in Thailand…what will happen to my Curry?

29 Dec

I am in panic!

Thailand is one of the biggest exporter of the coconut milk, and now it’s facing crisis.

I just can’t believe it! We are talking about coconut price rising from 7-8 baht ( US$1 =28-29 baht) to 24 baht!  ALMOST A DOLLAR…. and a kilo of coconut milk is 60 baht.

Maybe that doesn’t sound much, 60 bahts is about $2 USD but for the Thais 2 dollars mean 2 bowls of noodles. (that’s how I compare the standard of living in each country by asking how much does a simple meal cost)

It will probably mean that either my next meal of  green curry will be more expensive or will be very watery.


Coconut milk milking machine in a fresh market, many shopkeepers are facing crisis now

There are many factors that attribute to this, one huge factor is the natural disaster that hit Thailand this year both drought and flood and then the insects that the farmers can not seem to get rid of.  But for me, the main factor that contribute to this is that, the decreasing in coconut farms.

For the Thais, when talking about coconut, the first place that came into mind is Koh Samui.  The scenic island used to be known as the land of coconuts, but these days you can hardly see coconuts anywhere. The coconut farms are turned into resorts and hotels. Prachuabkirikan province near the beach town of Huahin also known to grow about 40 per cent of all coconut cultivations in Thailand also faces the same crisis, coconut farmers are either sell their land to the investors or decided not to grow coconut but other crops.  Those who still cultivate coconuts will face the crisis too which is the shortage of coconuts. The authority already speaking of importing more coconuts from Indonesia!


Shredded coconut is commonly use for many Thai dessert

That will effect the price rise in the Thai food here in Thailand including the famous curries that use coconut milk as one of the crucial ingredidents.  It’s also includes the dessert as well, usually I can pay 10 baht for a little bowl of dessert of  soyabeans and coconut milk (Tao Suan), but after this crisis, I’m not sure how much it will cost, probably doubled. That doesn’t sound very good, especially for those with lower income.


Coconut milk also used as one of the dessert ingredients

It will be interesting to see how the government and private sectors involved tackle this problem. The recent news was speculated that the producer of famous coconut milk brand ” Chaokoh ” is looking to move its factory somewhere else as they can not bear with the deficit. If that’s true then we as a coconut producing country will most likely be in trouble.

And I am writing about coconut in term of the effect on food alone and excluding other businesses that involve with coconuts such as coconut oil productions or other products made from coconut shells. It will be interesting to see how the future of the coconut in Thailand will turn out and  I am waiting for that.




9 Responses to “Coconut shortage in Thailand…what will happen to my Curry?”

  1. Alisa January 1, 2011 at 10:27 pm #

    Lovely photos. I love trying out recipes with coconut milk.

  2. Thai Info January 8, 2011 at 11:15 pm #

    No coconut milk in the supermarkets in Chiang Mai,
    You still can buy coconut milk at the local markets for the double price.
    Thai people are very angry about that shortage and blaming the PM.
    There is no white sugar available, cooking oil is rare and now a shortage of coconut milk. Hopefully there will not be a shortage of rice !

  3. SadieMBeagle January 18, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    FYI, I was in Rimping Meechok in CM a couple of days ago and they had mostly full shelves of coconut milk, but had signs posted that sales are limited to 3 boxes per family. (It didn’t seem to matter what size boxes you buy, so go ahead and buy 3 large boxes if you like!) Were the prices more than before? I can’t say, as I have only recently started cooking at home! But they didn’t seem too outrageous.

    I’ve also been to a couple of Tesco Express stores recently on the CM outskirts, and they simply have empty shelves with signs posted.

    • Pailin January 18, 2011 at 11:24 pm #

      @SadieMBeagle Thanks for your comment, Maybe I should try to check out the local market on the coconut milk.
      I mentioned in one of my entries that even coconut juice seller was complaining about it.
      Oh what is Rimping Meechok like?

  4. SadieMBeagle January 19, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    Actually, it’s Rimping Supermarket, a small chain (4 locations) of high-end western-style grocery store/market. I went to a lovely market that was similar in Siam Paragon in BKK when I was last there, although I forget the name.

    Here’s the Rimping website: As upmarket as it looks, the prices really aren’t much more than stores like Tesco, Carrefour, etc.

    So you may want to check your higher-end stores, because perhaps they haven’t sold out of their supply yet. (And maybe I should run back and buy 3 more boxes, just in case I run out!)

    • Pailin January 22, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

      @sadieMBeagle I think the coconut milk in the market here are still fine. I have a mission for you, I’m curious about the eggs in Chiangmai.
      Maybe you could check out the eggs in the market whether they sell it by kilo yet? 😀

  5. SadieMBeagle January 24, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    OK, I’m heading to the market today, so I will check for you!

  6. justatulip February 15, 2011 at 11:15 pm #

    The coconut shortage is having international impacts…I haven’t been able to find coconut milk at my Canadian supermarket for about a month now. I regret not stocking up on it earlier.

  7. Robert Graham February 22, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    Very interesting article. I was speculating myself about the decrease in land being culivated to grow coconuts. This is becoming a problem for many other crops as well. Bananas are going up in price for similar reasons. Palm oil, sugar what next ?

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