Spicing up sweet chocolate

Spicing up sweet chocolate

Spicing up sweet chocolate

The Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative Limited (Campco), which is well known for bailing arecanut and cocoa farmers out of distress during the price fall many years ago, is embarking on an extensive diversification-cum-expansion drive.

The multi-state cooperative society between Karnataka and Kerala is all set to shake up the cashewnut and coconut markets, as part of its expansion programme.

Campco was started in 1973 by its founder president Varanasi Subraya Bhat, when there was a sudden marketing crisis in arecanut.

Foray into chocolates

Campco set up a chocolate factory for creating market for cocoa, when farmers were in distress in the early 1980s, with help from the Karnataka government and the Centre. The then President of India Giani Zail Singh inaugurated the facility on September 1, 1986.

In fact, Campco's chocolate factory at Puttur is South India's only such facility, and the country's second in the cooperative sector. The other chocolate factory belonging to Amul (Anand Milk Union Limited) is in Gujarat.

Right from 10 products (chocolate varieties) in 1986, to 23 varieties (including one drinking chocolate) today, Campco has come a long way. In fact, until 1997, all the chocolates available under the Nestle brand were supplied by Campco. Though Nestle opened its firm in 1997 in Goa, Campco continues to supply chocolates (approximately 5,000 tonnes per annum) to the MNC even to this day, says Campco Managing Director M Suresh Bhandary.

New flavours

Though the products of Campco were highly affordable with a unique taste, they were not available at malls and high-end stores until two months ago. However, the recent launch of six varieties of premium chocolate (without vegetable fat) are available in many parts of India, including Karnataka, Kerala, Hyderabad, Ghaziabad, Jaipur, Punjab and Kolkata.

The newly launched premium chocolates are: Moments - dark chocolate with ginger; Dietier - sugar-free dark chocolate; Milk Marvel - soft and silky milk chocolate; Milk n Milk - with chocolate with rice crispies; Fun Tan - dark chocolate with hint of mint; and Fun Tan - dark chocolate which is slightly bitter.

Though each bar costs Rs 100, the gift box (with six pieces) is available for Rs 500, which are available at airports as well as malls, among other places.

Besides retail sales, Campco also supplies bulk chocolates to industries, weighing up to 1 kg, 5 kg and 10 kg slabs. "The industrial supply accounts for about 6,000 tonnes per annum," says Bhandary, adding that even Amul buys chocolate butter from Campco.

A lesser known fact about Campco is that it supplies chocolates to the Indian Navy at the latter's Mumbai, as well as Visakhapatnam bases. "They have purchased 23 tonnes of chocolate in the last four months," he says.

Plans are also on the anvil to market Campco chocolates to the Armed Forces (including the Air Force and Army) and the Indian Railways, and the same is under process, says Bhandary.

Currently, the capacity utilisation of the factory is more than 70%. The Campco chocolate factory at Puttur, about 60 kms from Mangaluru in Dakshina Kannada district, has the capacity to produce 23,000 tonnes per annum.

Campco's share in retail chocolate market is 7% and it plans to increase the same to 12-15% in the next three years. Mondelez (earlier Cadbury) holds a majority 70% share, followed by Nestle with an estimated 15-16% share, according to Bhandary.

Campco stands in the second position as far as industrial chocolates are concerned, with a production of 7,000 to 10,000 tonnes per annum.

Out of 20,000 tonnes of cocoa requirement in India, up to 13,000 tonnes is procured from farmers, while the remaining 7,000 tonnes is imported from Indonesia, Malaysia and Ghana, among other countries. Out of 13,000 tonnes, about 3,600 tonnes is handled by Campco, while the remaining quantity by other handlers, Bhandary informs.

He says that Campco is carrying out extensive R&D to develop more varieties of chocolate with natural ingredients.

Capacity expansion

Earlier this year, Campco commissioned a new amenity building at its chocolate factory in Puttur that conforms to the international food safety standards and zoning of processing area as per FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) standards, Campco President S R Satishchandra says.

Built at a cost of Rs 13 crore, the building is spread over 42,000 sq feet.

It has also laid the foundation stone for a master godown for arecanut, pepper and rubber at Kavu in Puttur taluk of the district. To be built at a cost of Rs 19 crore, the godown will have a built-up area of 1 lakh sq feet, and will be completed in 24 months, Satishchandra adds.

It is worth mentioning here that 40% of Campco's  1,07,000 members cultivate cocoa along with arecanut in Karnataka as well as Kerala. At the same time, scientists from the Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPCRI) from Vittal as well as Kasargod educate the growers on cultivation and pruning, besides providing technical guidance.

The cooperative had purchased 53,720 metric tonnes of arecanut valued at Rs 1,308 crore, including 23,946 metric tonnes of red variety, valued at Rs 624 crore, and 29,774 MT of white variety, valued at Rs 684 crore, and sold 53,806 MT, valued at Rs 1,362 crore, including 24,890 MT of red variety, valued at Rs 656 crore, and 28,915 MT of white variety, valued at Rs 705 crore.

Foray into new areas

Hitherto, Campco, with a record turnover of Rs 1,600 crore in the financial year 2017, and with a net profit of Rs 26.22 crore, was procuring directly from farmers and selling arecanut, cocoa, pepper and rubber in the states of Karnataka and Kerala.

This year the cooperative is all set to enter the FMCG segment by foraying into marketing of coconut oil and cashew nuts that have good demand in the market.

"Campco, during its last general body meeting, had proposed amendments to its bylaw, to market cashew, coconut products and FMCG segment, and it would be soon approved from the Central registrar," Bhandary says, and added that once it gets approval from the authorities concerned, it would foray into marketing of coconut oil and cashew products.

"Plans are on the anvil to develop the brand, and a processing unit may be started within 12 to 15 months," he hopes.

As far as pepper is concerned, half kg packs of pepper under 'Kaala Sona' brand are already produced at Campco's Baikampady unit since the last six months.

DH News Service

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