Not all coconut sugar is alike, by far. There are big differences between each brand of coconut sugar. The qualifications of the differences are enormous and that is one of the reasons why all we do is coconut sugar.
To begin with there are about 2,600 different species or varieties of coconut palm trees. When some speak of palm sugar they are indeed referring to coconut palm sugar or simply coconut sugar derived from the coconut tree. Given the relatively new industry of coconut sugar production the current mass production of coconut sugar is using the existing trees which are standard ordinary variety coconut trees grown for their coconuts and by-products. These trees are acceptable in as far as the tree itself is concerned but we here at Tropical Sweet are growing and harvesting coconut trees which are very special, unique and scarce.
We have selected and grown from the seed the best variety of coconut tree conducive to coconut sugar production. These special trees we are using have been planted from the seed especially for coconut sugar production, they have a particularly sweet, delicious and nutritious sap. We only have so many of these trees and that is the reason our supply is limited.
Given the current competitive environment in coconut sugar there are different strategies for maximizing profit and some of them do not have health as their primary concern.
One method to reduce cost is to mix muscovado sugar, in at a certain time, during the production process of the coconut sugar. Visually this adulterated coconut sugar is almost identical, it is very hard to distinguish. Muscovado sugar is cheap, coconut sugar is not. Coconut sugar taste is actually not all that sweet, compared to other sugars, it has a mild sweetness with a slight caramel aftertaste. Actually if you like sweet stuff you have to use a little bit more coconut sugar to reach the same level of sweetness. This type of mix does not have a glycemic index of 35. If the coconut sugar you are buying is just as sweet as sugar then that is your first hint that probably it is not as pure as the label claims.
Sometimes the harvested sap has started to ferment because it was not processed in a timely fashion. Coconut sap quickly ferments producing alcohol then eventually turning completely into vinegar. If the sap is not processed while it is very fresh the coconut sugar will be spotty and discolored, have a slight odor and upon consumption may cause some uncomfortable stomach churning issues. The only thing to do with the fermented sap is to sell it locally as wine and vinegar or to discard it entirely. The wine and vinegar can easily be sold locally but at a greatly reduced profit.
These are just some of the reasons why there is such a difference in the prices of the different coconut sugar brands. Obviously the cheaper brands are low quality unhealthy products. A word of caution though, just because some of them are more expensive doesn't mean that they are better.