An interaction with Anil Bhandari, President, India Coffee Trust.
While speaking to Restaurant India, Anil Bhandari, says, “Coffee has been consumed in India from early 15th century and it is not a new beverage”. He further speaks about the current state of the coffee industry, the domestic consumption and production of coffee in the country and also the future of the coffee industry in India.
Tell us something about the current state of Indian and global coffee industry.
Coffee consumption in India is expanding from 2.5 to 3 percent a year, which is huge if you consider the total consumption across the world, which are 140 million and 60 kilo bags. This indicates that with the rate of 3-4 million bags a year, we are increasing our consumption. The new areas of increased coffee consumption are India and China. India is obviously favourably good because it already has coffee culture. South India coffee consumption has always been good. Coffee production in south India is there since 1840. So, India is placed well for huge coffee consumption backed by growing population and growing middle class. Today, the total coffee production is slightly greater than demand, but five years down the line, I think there will be greater demand and production may fall short.
Is there any plan to change the current coffee model?
No, as of now there is no plan to change the coffee model in the country. I guess coffee as a beverage has been in use from early 15th century and it is not a new beverage. It has been drunk all over the world and the culture is globally spreading. Coffee is basically a small farming phenomenon. In every continent where coffee is grown like South America, Africa and Asia, the same pattern will continue despite the fact that in places like South America you have big farm and reserves and in Africa you have companies that are doing it. In non-coffee growing country, you find that the population is shifting from rural areas to the city. The city is growing, and there is a huge population problem in the city. We, coffee people, prevent that by holding the labour back, the farmer back on the plantation area or the rural area. And in India, we are actually helping to maintain the tropical forest of the Western Ghats for coffee cultivation. We have shed-grown coffee unlike other countries where they simply have coffee on barren land; we have coffee grown in the forest. We perform the multiple roles of the growers be it economic, cultural and environmental.
What is the total domestic production and consumption of coffee in India?
Traditionally, we consume over 15-20 percent of what we produce but that gap is growing, the production and the consumption are increasing, and we are now close to 25-35 percent of consumption.
What is the future of the Indian coffee industry?
We are producing 43 million bags of coffee and 300 lakh tonne of coffee. The production will not dramatically shift from that figure. The consumption is around a lakh and 20 thousand tonnes and that will shift in next 5-10 years.
What sort of investment has been made considering the fact that coffee industry is in an expansion mode?
That is basically done in the retail sector by the corporate. When you see the coffee chains in India, you’ll see that CCD is expanding; foreign chains like Starbucks are coming to the country. Dunkin Donuts sells more coffee than donuts and are expanding by opening more and more outlets. So, the investment is huge in the segment looking at the consumption level.
What is the total production of coffee in India?
India produces less than 4 percent coffee of the world produce. About two third is Robusta and one third is Arabica. The basic problem that the country has with the coffee production is the cultural operation for coffee grower in the country. Robusta is less expensive; hence its production is not a problem in the country.