Campco eyes niche areas for growth

Thanks to the Puttur-based multi-state co-operative chocolate producer Central Arecanut Marketing and Processing Co-operative Limited (Campco), Karnataka can now boast of manufacturing world-class chocolates produced with locally grown cocoa on the shady

India’s record in chocolate making has got a tad better, it is not only the kids and those with sweet tooth are biting into the blocks of India-made chocolates, but now even the tough sailors of the Indian Navy are swayed by the taste and the aroma!

Thanks to the Puttur-based multi-state co-operative chocolate producer Central Arecanut Marketing and Processing Co-operative Limited (Campco), Karnataka can now boast of manufacturing world-class chocolates produced with locally grown cocoa on the shady slopes of Western Ghat washed by the monsoons.

“Yes, we are making chocolates for Indian Navy and the feedback is encouraging. We are happy that the naval bases in Kochi, Mumbai and Vishakapattanam have confirmed that our chocolates are packed with the right mix of calories and nutrients recommended by the Navy’s nutrition experts. We are sending 3 tonnes of our chocolate ‘Dairy dream’ every month to these naval bases and soon we may get orders from the other armed forces too” S R Sathishchandra, President of Campco says.

Encouraged by the Prime Minister’s ‘Make in India’ call Campco got down to the work of creating a chocolate of international standard in India and the result was a range of six different flavours endowed with rich cocoa butter mass, he adds.

The Dairy Dream is however not made available for the outside market and has been reserved for the Naval force.

Niche segment

The multi-state cooperative, which was started to help arecanut and cocoa growers in Karnataka and Kerala, has now emerged as one of the formidable force in the chocolate industry. Apart from its traditional products like arecanut, chocolate, the Mangaluru-based Campco is also entering into newer areas like processing coconut to expand its business.

How did Campco, which was engaged in processing and marketing of arecanut, got into the manufacture and sale of this high-value product, which is a niche segment?

“The managing board has taken initiatives to recommend and infuse new range of products. Chocolate was something which we started next only to Arecanut but the research in product development has reached fruition levels and now we see ourselves as emerging into a major producer in the country,” Suresh Bhandary, Managing Director, Campco told DH.

Its volumes are increasing, and the total production has touched 13,685 metric tonnes (MTs). Of this, 9,530.39 MTs is produced for our own brands and we have sold chocolates valued at Rs 182 crore including 1,308 metric tonnes export valued at Rs 20 crore during the current fiscal, he said.

The Campco has grown into a multi-product and multi-process co-operative in the recent years. “In the current situation the market intervention is needed into many plantation crops including coconut, rubber and pepper. Coconut needs not just market intervention and stabilisation programme, but also putting its products on the international markets by sustained research in value addition and in creating products like desiccated coconut, extra virgin oil and many other products. It is also aimed at economic stability of farmers,” he said.

“We encourage farmers to engage in multi-cropping to effectively face vagaries of nature and economy, without migrating into alternatives that have no potential for growth” Bhandary said.

Expansion

The Campco has requisitioned the district administration of Dakshina Kannada for grant of 15 acres land near Mangaluru port to establish a new facility with modern machinery under the technical guidance of top experts in the world.

When this facility is ready to operate it would have capacity to process 1 lakh coconuts a day. With an investment of about Rs 40 crore, Campco is seeking machinery and technical guidance from Alfa Laval to set up the coconut processing plant as well as marketing assistance.

The plant would produce virgin coconut oil and desiccated coconut, primarily meant for export as well as activated carbon (from coconut shells), pasteurised coconut milk and coconut oil for domestic market. Over 60% of the plant will be fully export oriented with a targeted market approach.

Why foray into coconut, pepper and rubber?

The Campco has the expertise and inclination to engage in price stabilisation, market prospection and explore new products based on health and organic fields. “We have strengthened our capacity to handle every aspect and issues relating to Arecanut. We have been on the forefront of the movement to ban low quality and low priced arecanut import into the country” says former president Konkodi Padmanabha.

As part of its green initiatives, the Campco chocolate factory has installed three units of wind energy generators which is taking care of 70% of the energy needs of the factory. It has produced 39,90,000 units of power till now.

Elite research organisations like the ICAR, CPCRI and ICAR-ISSR are in touch with Campco for experiential inputs on crop management and expansion.

For popularising chocolate consumption, the Campco has already started putting up chocolate kiosks in Bengaluru, and its hometown in Puttur and soon in Mangaluru and other Tier-II cities across Karnataka and in Kerala. Campco recorded a turnover of Rs 1,742 crore in 2017-18 and the net profit was Rs 41 crore. The Board of Directors has recommended 10% dividend to members. During the year, Campco purchased arecanut worth Rs 1,452.92 crore, cocoa at Rs 55.75 crore and rubber at Rs 48.87 crore.

(The writer is a senior journalist based in Mangaluru)

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Campco eyes niche areas for growth

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