UK demand for coconut oil has gone coco nuts
In recent years consumers have gone, well, nuts for coconut oil. In 2014, UK consumers spent just under £3.4m on the stuff; but, by 2017, that figure had reached about £25m.28 Led by the celebrity vanguard, the pied pipers of our modern age, we have begun using this supposed superfood for almost everything imaginable: as cooking oil, a moisturiser, a hair-care treatment.
It has even been promoted by one celeb as a lubricant for the bedroom and as a primordial mouthwash. Thus spoke Gwyneth Paltrow: “It’s supposed to be great for oral health and making your teeth white…it’s an ancient, ancient technique. I read about it on the Internet.”
The many claims to remarkable health benefits have been met by statements that coconut oil may not be a healthy choice, largely on account of its high saturated fat content. In 2018, Karin Michels, an epidemiologist at the Harvard TH Chan school of public health, said in a lecture that coconut oil was “one of the worst things you can eat” and was as good for your well-being as “pure poison.”30
Strong statements such as these, casting doubt over this now-sacred oil, potentially explain the recent contraction in UK demand, in which spending dropped 12% in the period April 2017 to April 2018, to just under £22m.