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How is Coconut Processed from a Plant into Oil and Oleochemicals?

12 September 2023


By Devane Sharma

Musim Mas coconut oilPhoto by MarcTutorials

Introduction

Musim Mas produces coconut oil and derivatives that go into a broad range of food and industrial applications. Coconut oil is extracted from copra, which is the dried white flesh of coconuts. All the copra sourced by Musim Mas originates from smallholder farmers. How does Musim Mas source copra and process it into coconut oil and derivatives, such as coconut-based surfactants that go into the shampoo we find on the supermarket shelf?

Sourcing from Coconut Smallholder Farmers

Musim Mas’ copra supply originates from small farms in Indonesia. Most of these smallholders work independently.

Once the coconuts reach maturity, the farmers harvest them. After that, they’re de-husked manually using spear-like tools.

After de-husking, the fruits are split open to expose the white flesh of the fruit. The white flesh is then dried in the sun or with mechanical dryers, thus producing copra. Drying is necessary to reduce the moisture content, making it suitable for storage and transportation. The copra is then packed and sent to copra crushing plants for further processing. Proper storage is critical to maintain quality and prevent spoilage.

How is copra produced

Musim Mas Group Copra Crushing Plant

From a multitude of suppliers in the Eastern regions of Indonesia, Musim Mas sources copra, which it crushes at its plant located in Sulawesi.

Once the copra arrives at the plant, it is first sorted to remove impurities and contaminants, ensuring that the oil and derivatives produced are of the highest quality. After that, the copra is examined for moisture content. Further drying might be necessary to prevent the build-up of mold or bacteria.

The copra is then crushed using mechanized crushers at the plant. This process increases their surface material, making it easier to extract oil in the next stage. The oil is extracted by the expeller pressing method. This method involves using an expeller press or screw press to extract the oil from the crushed copra mechanically. The copra is placed in the press, and pressure is applied to squeeze the oil. The extracted oil is then collected and separated from the remaining solids.

How coconut oil is made

 

Further Processing into Oleochemicals and Specialty Fats

Musim Mas’ plant also features facilities to filter, bleach, and deodorize the oil based on the needs of our customers. The various oil forms are then packed and transported to customers through Musim Mas’ integrated logistics network.

Coconut oil can also be refined into oleochemicals and specialty fats to produce a broad range of products. This includes coconut-based surfactants for shampoos and MCT (Medium-chain triglycerides) oils, a health food most commonly taken as a supplement. The oils are processed at Musim Mas’ refineries in Sumatra and Surabaya.

At the refinery, the oil is fractionated into stearin, which has a higher melting point and is solid at room temperature, and olein, which has a lower melting point and is a liquid at room temperature. With additional processing, stearin and olein have a broad range of applications, including food applications, surfactants for soaps and shampoos, personal care, and lubricants. One example of such a derivative is Musim Mas’ all-natural 100% coconut-based surfactant that can be used in shampoos, body wash, and other personal care products.

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