From Cargo Handbook - the world's largest cargo transport guidelines website
Infobox on Copra
Example of Copra
Origin This table shows only a selection of the most important countries of origin and should not be thought of as exhaustive.
  • Africa: Tanzania, Ivory Coast, other countries of East Africa
  • Asia: Philippines, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, South Sea Islands
  • America: West Indies
  • Australia
Stowage factor (in m3/t)
  • 2.27 m³/t (jute fabric bags, 65 kg)
  • 2.09 - 2.37 m³/t (bags)
  • 1.95 - 2.15 m³/t (bulk)
  • 2.12 - 2.27 m³/t (bags)
  • 1.84 - 2.27 m³/t (bulk)
  • 2.00 m³/t (bulk)
The stowage factor generally varies considerably, depending on the degree of drying and the size of the coconut pieces. It is not unusual for the above-stated figures to be exceeded by up to 20%.
Angle of repose -
Humidity / moisture
  • Relative humidity: 70%
  • Water content: 5 - 6%
  • Maximum equilibrium moisture content: 70%
Oil content 55.0 - 72.0%
Ventilation Copra requires particular temperature, humidity/moisture and ventilation conditions.
Recommended ventilation conditions: air exchange rate at least 10 - 20 changes/hour (airing)
With bagged cargo, good airing must be ensured, to remove water vapor and heat. Stowing in two rows is recommended.
Risk factors Due to its high oil content, copra has a tendency to self-heating/spontaneous combustion; see also text.



Copra is the cut, dried endosperm (nutritive tissue) of the coconut, fruit of the coconut palm from the palm family (Palmae). The process of Coconut Oil extraction is done by crushing copra to produce coconut oil (70%); the by-product is known as copra cake or copra meal (30%).
Once the oil is extracted, the remaining coconut cake is 18-25% protein but contains so much dietary fiber it can not be eaten in large quantities by humans. Instead it is normally fed to ruminants.

Making copra – removing the shell, breaking up, drying – is usually done where the coconut palms grow. Copra can be made by smoke drying, sun drying, or kiln drying. Sun drying requires little more than racks and sufficient sunlight. Halved nuts are drained of water, and left with the meat facing the sky; they can be washed to remove mold-creating contaminants. After two days the meat can be removed from the shell with ease, and the drying process is complete after three to five more days (up to seven total). Sun drying is often combined with kiln drying, eight hours of exposure to sunlight means the time spent in a kiln can be reduced by a day and the hot air the shells are exposed to in the kiln is more easily able to remove the remaining moisture. This process can also be reversed, partially drying the copra in the kiln and finishing the process with sunlight. There are advantages and disadvantages to both - starting with sun drying requires careful inspection to avoid contamination with mold while starting with kiln-drying can harden the meat and prevent it from drying out completely in the sun. In India, small but whole coconuts can be dried over the course of eight months to a year, and the meat inside removed and sold as a whole ball. Meat prepared in this fashion is sweet, soft, oily and is cream-colored instead of being white. Coconut meat can be dried using direct heat and smoke from a fire, using simple racks to suspend the coconut over the fire. The smoke residue can help preserve the half-dried meat but the process overall suffers from unpredictable results and the risk of fires.

The largest source of copra is from the Philippines. A very large number of small farmers and tree owners produce copra, which is a vital source of their income. Unfortunately, in the Philippines (and elsewhere) copra is highly susceptible to the growth of aflatoxins, if not dried properly. Aflatoxins can be highly toxic, and are known to be the most potent natural carcinogenic—affecting, in particular, the liver. Aflatoxins in copra cake, fed to animals, can be passed through in milk or meat, leading to human illnesses.

In the Philippines, copra is collected as dried "cups" (the meat from one-half of a coconut), which are shipped in large burlap bags. At the shipping point (typically, a dock) the copra is sampled by driving a small metal tube into the bag at several points, thus perforating the cups and collecting small amounts of copra within the tubes. Those samples are measured for aflatoxin contamination, and if within standards the bag is shipped. Of course, this risks that many of the cups will be missed by the random insertion of the testing tube, and some seriously contaminated copra might be missed. Because so many small producers are involved, it is impractical to monitor all the farms and drying sites (which is where aflatoxin contamination occurs). The Philippines government continues to work on developing methods for testing, safety, and minimization of aflatoxins.

Two types are shipped, sun-dried copra and kiln-dried copra. Sundried is more valuable, but more susceptible to insect attack.


Copra meal is used as fodder for horses and cattle. Its high oil levels and protein are fattening for stock. The protein in copra meal has been heat treated and provides a source of high quality protein for cattle, sheep and deer, because it does not break down in the rumen.

Coconut oil can be extracted using either mechanical expellers, or solvents (hexane). Mechanical expelled copra meal is of higher feeding value, because it contains typically 8-12% oil, whereas the solvent extracted copra meal contains only 2-4% oil. Premium quality copra meal can also contain 20-22% crude protein, and <20 ppb aflatoxin.

High quality copra meal contains <12% non structural carbohydrate (NSC) which makes this product well suited for feeding to all horses that are prone to ulcers, insulin resistance, colic, tying up, and acidosis.


COPRA (in bulk)
Weight loss may be significant, usually between 3% and 7%, but in some cases reaching 10%. Copra will produce mould in damp conditions, becoming blackened and smelly. Usually, oil extracted from copra so affected is not damaged. A chemical test will indicate any increase in acidity level. Should an increase be indicated it may be necessary to give an allowance on the oil. Insect damage by the copra beetle will lead to loss of bulk.
Spontaneous combustion may result from the copra becoming heated due to the high fat content, the presence of moisture and inadequate ventilation. Damage may result from stowage near to the boilers, insufficient dunnage and matting to prevent contact with steelwork, and lack of ventilation, humidity causing the copra to take on a musty odour.

If properly dry and packed in new or good second-hand bags, may show an overweight when stowed with damp, non-hazardous goods. If a heavy green mould is present, accompanied by a heavy loss in weight, then it may in most cases be assumed that the copra was shipped in an unduly wet condition. If the green mould is present without major loss in weight then it is possible that the copra has been in contact with water. This is not, however, a certain indication, as if dry copra has been stored for the long time prior to shipment then the same condition may arise.

Imperfectly dried copra, or that which is shipped wet, is liable to deteriorate in the course of the voyage when carbonic acid and carbonic gases are generated.

Smoking and the use of naked lights in holds or near open hatches should be strictly prohibited.

Copra, whether in bulk or bagged, requires the best possible ventilation to dispel moisture and gases. There is a risk of copra being damaged by even the smallest admixture of sulphur, and it should not, therefore, be loaded with or immediately following a cargo of crude or fine sulphur.

If copra comes into contact with ship's metal parts, it may become rancid. Hence, the appliance of dunnage and lining materials.

Favorable travel temperature range is 5 - 25°C. Temperatures > 30°C should not prevail for a long period, as self-heating may otherwise occur. Therefore the product should not be stowed in close proximity with heat sources (fuel tanks, engine room bulkheads etc.).

COPRA (in bags)
Can have an oil content up to approx. 70%. White copra is sun dried, black copra is tried in a kiln and often smells of wood smoke due to this drying process.

Fires in copra :
Fires may be caused by static electricity. This can happen because of friction between the bags during handling. Another possible cause of fire in the cargo is smoking of the dock workers. During stuffing smoking must be forbidden.

Copra properties-segregation regulations:
When stowing copra, the different properties of this products should be taken into account thus preventing damage not only to the copra itself but to other cargoes as well.

The principal properties of copra are:

  • Heating, sweating;
  • Presence of insects;
  • Causing greasy stains and giving off a particular scent;
  • Development of carbon monoxide.

One should be very careful to stow other cargoes with copra in the same container. Some examples may illustrate this.

  • Copra and tea : Never to be loaded in the same container.
  • Copra and hides : Not in the same container; insects damage the hides.
  • Copra and sugar : Not in the same container, because of the insects.
  • Copra and timber : Not in the same container, unless this cannot be avoid in which case good separation must be made.
  • Copra : Do not stow near wool, sisal, gom copal gom damar.
  • Copra : Do not stow together with coffee, cotton, tobacco, rice, ground nut, or other raw materials for food.
  • Copra : Do not stow with illipenuts, Castor Seeds because of risk of mixing.

Refusing copra:

  • Do not accept wet bags (moisture will promote spontaneous combustion).
  • Do not accept bags showing an increase in temperature (spontaneous combustion).
  • Do not accept greasy bags (to be recognised on their dark colour).

Stowage of copra in bags:

  • Preferably in upper positions, not in bottom positions anyway.
  • Stowage of copra in containers: leave intermediate transverse ways. In fore and aft parts of the containers, blocks to be formed 6” away from the bulkheads, gratings underneath bottom tier. Between the top tier and the roof, sufficient clearance must be kept in order to guarantee a proper surface ventilation.

Measures during the voyage:
Cargo to be ventilated as much as possible, but only as long as the temperature in the cargo space is at least 2 degrees higher than the dewpoint temperature of the outside air. Preferably mechanical exhaust ventilation. During the voyage care should be taken that no fire (cigarette, or sparks from the stack) can land into the cargo space, via open hatches or ventilating shafts. In order to detect heating, temperatures must taken daily.

Precautionary measures during stuffing/unstuffing:

  • Fire hoses, extinguishers ready for immediate use.
  • Compartments loaded with copra should be opened and ventilated well before the discharge (if possible) because of the possible presence of carbon monoxide. Friction is to be avoided.

Risk factors

- Self-heating / Spontaneous combustion
- Enzymatic fat cleavage
- Odor
- Contamination
- Mechanical influences
- Toxicity / Hazards to health
- Shrinkage/Shortage
- Insect infestation / Diseases
- Condensation (wet damage)

Reference is made to the relevant IMO regulations on hazardous cargo.

Note:(Source including Transport Information Service of the GDV)