Mumbai: Indian coffee exports in 2008 fell marginally on reduced offtake from European countries due to the global financial crisis, but a weak rupee and falling freight rates provided some support, industry officials said.
Total exports in 2008 were 219,583 tonnes, compared with 220,010 tonnes a year ago, said a senior official with the Coffee Board of India, who did not want to be identified.
Exports of robusta coffee fell at least 2% to 108,088 tonnes during the period, while arabica exports rose 19% to 49,844 tonnes.
Bean probe: Robusta, which constitutes 70% of India’s output, is typically blended with arabica beans for a lower-cost option. Chip Chipman / Bloomberg
Arabica is mainly used in premium coffees, while robusta, which constitutes 70% of the country’s output, is typically blended with arabica beans for a lower-cost option for brewed coffee, or processed into instant coffee.
Instant coffee exports also fell about 20% to 39,710 tonnes, the official said.
“Reduced offtake from the European markets is hurting Indian exports,” said Ramesh Rajah, president of Coffee Exporters Association of India.
India exports some 65% of its coffee to European countries.
Exports in 2009 are also likely to remain steady, Rajah said.
However, in value terms, exporters have been benefited due to a weakness in the rupee and a rise in unit prices, he said.
The rupee had fallen 19% in 2008, its biggest yearly fall since a balance of payments crisis in the early 1990s as the global financial crisis triggered a surge in capital outflows.
The unit value, or price of a kg, of coffee has risen to Rs110 during 2008, compared with Rs87 a year ago, the Coffee Board official said.
In value terms, total exports rose at least 26% to Rs2,420 crore. India is the world’s sixth largest coffee producer and exports 70-80% of its output.