The Coconut Craze

Touted for thirst-quenching, skin-soothing goodness, this tropical-fruit star is straining the supply chain

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Under a metal roof in dandagamuwa, in western Sri Lanka, a line of seated men and women swing their small axes in sharp, neat strokes. Chips of brown coconut husk fly into the muggy October air, thick with the ripe smell of fermenting fruit. In seven or eight swift flicks of the wrist, the hatcheters render each coconut into a smooth white globe that they pass on to be shredded, dried and pressed into oil. At the end of the line, pallets of neatly labeled mason jars wait, ready to be shipped.

The destination: a Los Angeles warehouse some 9,300 miles...

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