Thursday, 2 September 2010

"Why is there Crap in my Coconut Milk?" - Tropical Sun's Perplexing Reply

I have written open letters to a number of companies since I started blogging, primarily to complain about ingredients or deception. Nearly all of them failed to reply. I listed them in Roll Call of Shame: Companies Who Don't Listen.

When someone takes the time to reply, however absurd their rationale, I feel obliged to engage on a civilised level. Marks and Spencer particularly distinguished themselves by being willing to continue a debate about the sugar in their pre-cooked chicken (Why is there Sugar in my Chicken?) and Julian Graves briefly and clumsily corresponded about their sale of sugar-laden products (Julian Graves Responds to 'Sugar Pushers' Post.) Both deserve at least some credit for that.

So I must take my hat off to Tropical sun for yesterday's reply to my open letter a few weeks back (Dear Tropical Sun - "Why is there Crap in My Coconut Milk?"), complaining about the sudden appearance of sundry additives in their coconut milk.

A reminder of what I said:

Dear Tropical Sun,

I have been a big fan of your coconut milk for a long time now, and was dismayed when your ingredients changed from being pure, to being decidedly impure.

I eat coconut milk precisely because it does not contain things like starchy carbohydrate, so the idea that you have adulterated the product with corn starch seems like madness. Was it commercial pressures that led to your decision, or a genuine (albeit in my view, misguided) desire to create a better product for the consumer?

Perhaps I am in the minority in caring about these subtleties, but in a world where awareness of additives and a desire to eat real food is growing at a fast pace, your decision appears to be a retrograde step. My blog readers and I will be interested to read your response.


Here was their reply, yesterday:

Thank you for your feedback on our Coconut Milk. We take all comments about our products seriously and would like to reassure you that the content in our Coconut Milk has not changed.

The demand for the product in the last few years has increased globally, shipment times have increased so it has now been necessary to add regulators / stabilisers to keep the quality of the content consistent wherever it is sold in the world. Contrary to what you have suggested, these have not been added to alter the taste in any way nor is it for profit reasons. Also the ingredient list on the can was updated also due to regulatory requirement.

We at Tropical Sun value our customer feedback and hope that you are satisfied with this response and will continue to use our products.

For further information about Tropical Sun, please visit our website at


Kev, Customer Services

I won't insult your intelligence by pointing out the manifestly contradictory statements in this reply. Instead, I will skip straight to my response, which I will also email to Kev, along with a link to this post.

Dear Kev,

Many thanks for your reply. You would be surprised how many companies lack the courtesy to respond.

I have a few additional questions, which I hope you will be able to answer.

In the first paragraph, you reassure me that
"the content in our Coconut Milk has not changed" - yet in the following paragraph confirm that "it has now been necessary to add regulators / stabilisers." You can imagine how that might be confusing.

Later in the same paragraph, you say "
the ingredient list on the can was updated also due to regulatory requirement." This also suggests a change.

The burning questions are:

1. When did you start adding the regulators and stabilisers?
2. When did you change the label?

In other words, how long was I using your coconut milk, thinking it did not contain any additives?

I would also like to pick up the point about corn starch:

3. Is the corn starch added to improve the taste/texture - or is it related to global shipment demands?


4. Why do other manufacturers like Dunn's River not require the same additives?

I hope you will continue to correspond on this matter.



It's important companies understand the strength of feeling around issues like this. I think they just assume I am some crackpot, with entirely unrepresentative views.

So if you agree with me, please drop a comment, however small, onto the post. I will wait a couple of days before emailing Kev at Tropical Sun so that (I hope) we have a 'comment petition' to reinforce that there plenty of people who are concerned about this issue.

This will also serve another purpose: I have just installed a new comment system, which I hope will make it easier to comment - let me know how that works for you.

See Also:
Dear Tropical Sun - "Why is there Crap in My Coconut Milk?"
Tropical Sun Replies - "Our Additives are Okay"
After Much Searching... the Perfect Coconut Cream
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