Doctor's new order: no limes, no coconuts

A resident and survivor of super Typhoon Haiyan builds his house next to destroyed coconut trees at a village in Jaro town, in Leyte province, central Philippines on February 17, 2014.

If the doctor in Harry Nilsson's most famous song is reading this, we admonish you to change your recommendations immediately. On Thursday, we explained why lime prices are rising and threatening favorite beverages, condiments and foods, including mojitos, salsa and even soups like pho.

Now there's news that the price of coconuts are climbing, too: both prices for copra – the white meat of a coconut – and coconut oil rose in March.

Copra prices rose 60 percent since February of 2013 (graph and data via Index Mundi)... 

... and a 50 percent rise for coconut oil prices over a year:

Read: do not put limes in coconuts. Do not pass go. 

The Hindu reports that Bharat N.Khona, former Board Member of the Cochin Oil Merchants Association (COMA), says drought conditions are hurting shipments of copra. In addition, Super Typhoon Yolanda reportedly destroyed 10 percent of coconut trees in the past winter in the Philippines. That country is the main supplier of coconuts to the United States, according to GMA News. In fact, the deadly typhoon resulted in a 13 percent drop in copra supply.

The demand for tender coconuts during the upcoming summer is also contributing to the copra shortage.  

How long until prices level out? It takes six-to-seven years to grow new trees to the point where they bear new fruit.

Other top growers of coconuts include Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Brazil, and Thailand, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. But the fact remains that the Philippines is the second-largest global producer behind Indonesia, which means we may not see prices lower any time soon. 

Taken all together, what shall we call this lime-coconut catastrophe? We've got limes and coconuts. We've got copras.We've got COMAs.

A coco-catasrophe? A coconut coma? A lime coma? A loma? A Point Loma? (Shout out to San Diego). A copratastrophe? A copracabra? (Shout out to chupacabras.)

Whatever we call it, get ready to shell out extra bucks at your Harry Nilsson party. 

About the author

Margarita Noriega is an editor with Marketplace's digital team, based in New York.

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