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Law hinders growth of coconut water business

ST. JOHN’S — Proprietors of CocoH2O, the country’s first professionally packaged supplier of bottled coconut water, have pointed to a major impediment to growing their business.

The coconut water can be found on most major supermarket shelves and is said to be a genuine product of Antigua & Barbuda.

The company is owned by Hollis Walker and his wife Alisha and is located on Friars Hill Road.

CocoH2O has grown in popularity since hitting the shelves September 2012 and owners see one major hindrance in sight – the inadequacy of raw material.

“Antigua has a very limited supply of coconuts, so our intention was to source the product from overseas,” said Alisha Walker, one of the directors of the company.

She said efforts to have the product imported from the neighbouring islands have not been successful.

“Because the Ministry of Agriculture has an embargo on coconut importation,” Walker said.

But the company cannot meet the demand of the current market because of the coconut scarcity.

For the time being, the coconut water bottling company produces about 200 bottles a week. Proprietors disclosed an investment of approximately EC $100,000 to get the factory operational.

In responding to the concern about the availability of coconuts here, Agriculture Minister Hilson Baptiste said he wasn’t aware of that case but went on to defend the government’s restriction on the import of coconuts, saying that he wanted to minimise the prevalence of diseases like lethal yellowing. (Antigua Observer)

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