Pacific childhood drives Henry’s affinity with the coconut

COCONUT KING: Henry and Sandra Gosling.
COCONUT KING: Henry and Sandra Gosling. Warren Lynam

HENRY Gosling grew up around coconuts but it took until he was 63 years old to tap into a use that is well on the way to becoming a global brand.

Henry and wife Sandra's idea to create non-dairy yoghurt and ice cream alternatives from the flesh of coconuts has employed 20 people in their home town Yandina and led to licensing agreements in the UK and the USA.

Staff member Dennis Teichmann has been in the US setting up and testing the New Mexico plant of US licensee Chuck Waghorn who has already secured orders from 40 stores in Texas.

The Co Yo idea came about in 2009 when Mr Gosling and his wife were thinking of products to develop from coconuts for people who were dairy intolerant.

Mr Gosling's family had been involved in coconut plantations in Fiji and it had been a staple of cooking in their household as it is in indigenous populations around the world. He was born in Fiji and spent his childhood there.

Production started in 2010 and the first international licence granted to Bethany Eaton in the UK in 2011.

What they did not first realise but discovered when their products were professionally analysed was that coconuts are a rich source of the same lauric acid found in mother's milk, that is responsible for helping build immune systems.

"It's hard to think that a little idea Sandra and I developed four years ago would have come this far," Mr Gosling said.

"The market has come to us. It's unbelievable that this little idea is developing into a global brand."

Every endeavour, however, comes with its hurdles and Co Yo was not an exception to that rule.

Last year, after being business three years, Co Yo had to rebrand its product from Original Coconut Milk Yoghurt to Coconut Milk Yoghurt Alternative because it did not contain at least 10% milk from mammals.

It was hiccup, but the fledgling company took it in its stride.

With the number of dairy intolerant people rising by the day in western populations Mr Gosling is convinced there is a bright future.

And while growth beckons tantalisingly the former media executive, now 67, says he is constantly grounded by his wife's warnings to "hasten slowly".

Topics:  editors picks foodie ice cream pacific ocean small business yoghurt

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