Mr. Ramesh Rajah, President, Coffee Exporters Association and CMD, Ramesh Exports shares his views on the Indian coffee and its perception in the international market. Edited excerpts:
Can you throw some light on the USP of Indian coffee?
The eco-friendly nature of Indian coffee is already quite well known but at the same time could be further emphasised. The taste parameters of Indian coffee are well suited for the espresso type of coffee. Currently what is happening in the global market is there is a shift from the normal type of coffee (which I call a Germany cup) to a more mediterranean cup (which is more of an espresso style). India is currently a big supplier to Italy. The inherent quality of Indian coffee is suited for that type of coffee and the current shift in the market suits the capabilities of Indian coffee.
What is your outlook for Indian coffee exports in the long run?
The quantity of exports really depends on the production and whatever we produce it will get exported. The important thing is how we increase production so that we can meet the increasing demand. The increased demand is expected to come from the espresso growth. As more and more espresso coffee will be required across the globe, we can use this opportunity to sell more of Indian coffee to our buyers. The constraint is mainly on the production side where the production is currently stagnant. The other end of this constraint is that the long term buyer may feel more reluctant to use Indian blends as it is believed the country has peaked out in the production cycle. We have to show that India is a growing producer and it is reliable supplier for the long run.
How do you see the growth in domestic coffee market?
The good thing is that India is not losing market in coffee unlike other hot beverages as the younger generation is still coffee. The growth of cafes has given a big boost to the consumption and adaptation of coffee in India. Coffee is expected to continue to grow in the major metros but the penetration into the rural market will be tough as tea remains a popular beverage in those markets. As making coffee will always remain expensive as compared to tea, extending reach to the rural markets in India will take much more time.
What is the perception of Indian coffee in the global market?
There are broadly two sets of consumers we are looking at from the international perspective –consumers on the road side and international buyers. The perception of Indian coffee is very low amongst the end consumer but when we talk about the industry – who takes the decision on what coffee to buy, their knowledge of Indian coffee is good. The main problem is that they do not think that India will continue to grow in terms of production and especially in Arabica coffee where production is actually going down. The real target for us is to convince the industry that we are a growing producer and have the required technology and know-how.