The landscape of coffee exports Indian perspective

Juliet D'cruz

The landscape of coffee exports: Indian  perspective  

While being in a cafe, everyone’s favorite and first pick is a cup of coffee! It is not  only a great stress buster, but its aroma is equally pleasing. Indeed, coffee is fuelling people worldwide, and the world is running on coffee!  

But, when you enjoy those sips, have you ever wondered how it made it to your cup?  Where is coffee grown? How is it cultivated? And how does every restaurant in the  world manage to have coffee on their menu! Well, it is not rocket science to decode  here. Some parts of the world, like India, have an abundance of coffee plantations,  and they are sharing it with other nations. Coffee export from India is a significant  component of the world’s coffee demand. It is also one of the most exported items  from our country. 

This blog will be all about coffee and its exports from India! Hope you can smell the  aroma right here! 

A Quick Look at India’s Coffee Exports  

Considering the volume numbers, India is the eighth-largest producer & exporter of  coffee beans. According to DGFT, India’s coffee exports totalled about US$ 720 million  in FY21. In the same year, the coffee export industry in India was made up of the  following:

  • 22 percent Arabica coffee 
  • 42 percent Robusta coffee 
  • And 31 per cent production was of instant coffee  
  • While the other categories held some minor share.  

Even before Covid-19 gave a jolt to the coffee industry, India’s coffee exports fell at a  -3 per cent CAGR between FY12 and FY21. Overall exports fell by 44 per cent in April  2020, reaching a nine-year low in dollar terms in FY19-20. 

Furthermore, the situation substantially influenced green coffee bean shipments in  March 2020, a critical season for Robusta coffee harvesting and exports. However,  new tendencies have begun to emerge. And the numbers are now towards the upward  trajectory for coffee export from India. 

The epidemic caused a shift in consumer habits toward more convenient items and a  massive increase in the sale of coffee makers. Furthermore, covid-19 boosted the  appeal of specialty coffees such as the well-known Malabar coffee. 

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Areas of Export: 

As per the available data, the Instant coffee shipments to Poland & the United States  are increasing rapidly. As a result, Indian exporters might continue to gain a significant  market share in these two countries for instant coffee. To preserve their supremacy,  Indian coffee dealers must also strengthen their hold on the Russian market and  compete more fiercely with Brazil & Germany. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia is also  considered a potential new market for Indian coffee exporters. 

The majority chunk, i.e., over 20% of coffee, is sent to Italy, India’s top trade partner  in this coffee commodity. However, India’s coffee exports to this European country are  declining. One explanation for this drop-in coffee exports from India is that the  exporters have limited means to export. They don’t have exposure to new and easy  platforms like Amazon Global selling. It allows the exporters to export coffees through  the amazon international platform without hassles. 

Countries involved in the world scenario of coffee exports 

Brazil is the world’s largest coffee producer. The United States is the world’s leading  coffee importer, importing 20% of the world’s coffee.  

Germany ranks second place in the world’s second-largest coffee exporters and  importers list. The distinct variety of coffee that Green coffee beans is mainly imported  into Germany from Brazil. Besides, two other countries are in the race- Vietnam and  Honduras.  

From the garden to the plantation: let’s explore the  bit of history.

  • The British brought coffee plantations to the summit of Bababudan hills during  the early years of 1600. 
  • The first coffee plantations in Chickmagalur and Coorg were built in the late  nineteenth century, although Indian coffee has always been regarded as subpar  at best. Robusta coffee is cultivated in the Madi Keri area of South India. 
  • The first coffee establishment in India was founded in Calcutta in 1780 to  service the British, with another opening in Madras a few years later.  Coffee plantations sprang up along with coffee exports from India as the British  moved through hill stations and the rest of India. 
  • Changes in the production, processing, and roasting of Indian coffee and more  current views toward safety and worker benefits have resulted in Indian coffee  beans gradually claiming a position on the international coffee stage. 
  • Until the mid-1990s, the Indian government controlled all of its coffee industry,  where they generated huge profits by exporting subpar coffee to the Soviet  Union. This contract put India in a difficult situation since providing a low-quality  product made sales to global coffee companies impossible. 
  • During this time, the Indian government paid farmers based on quantity, with  little control or investment in improving quality, resulting in mass production of  these low-quality coffee beans. 

Benefits related to Environmental aspects and  humans: 

  • Since the coffee exports have grown tremendously, our country is steadily  establishing a reputation as the up-coming hub of coffee plantation.  Growing coffee exports from India frequently necessitates the cultivation of  additional crops such as cardamom, cocoa, areca nuts, and coconuts. Coffee plantation employees enjoy significant perks such as free housing,  maternity leave, child care, and pensions.  
  • Along with the human advantages, all kinds of Indian coffee are sustainable.  Alongside, it is also bird-friendly, making it a fascinating & ethical endeavour. Almost all the varieties of Indian coffee are cultivated in the absence of direct  sunlight. So, the workers are saved from exposure to scorching heat and direct sunlight. 

The bottom line: 

All coffees in India are cultivated beneath a ‘well-defined two-tier shade canopy. India’s  coffee-growing areas are one of the world’s 25 biodiversity hotspots, with no  counterpart anyplace else. India now has 13 distinct coffee kinds obtained from 13  separate coffee-growing regions, most of which are in the country’s south. Indian  coffees pair nicely with cappuccinos and espressos. The data depicts it all!  

The Indian exporters have a vast scope in the coffee exports. However, they need to  utilize a proper export channel.

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