Tata Coffees new hi-tech plant goes on stream in TN

Chennai, Mar 28 | Updated: Mar 29 2007, 07:12am hrs
Tata Coffee stepped into all the value-added segments of soluble coffee with the inauguration of its state-of-the-art freeze dried plant at Theni, near Madurai, on Tuesday. The Rs 19 crore plant, said to be the first of its kind in South-east Asia, is set up with the technical expertise of EE Verfahrenstechnik GmbH, Germany.

It has an annual capacity of 2,000 tonne with provisions for expansion to meet growing demand, company sources said from Bangalore. Freeze dried coffee, being in the fastest growing instant coffee segment, commands a significant premium over other soluble coffee and is expected to contribute significantly to the companys growth plans in the coming years, sources said. Tata Coffee is looking at converting all its soluble coffee, including the new freeze-dried capacity, into branded operations and become a significant player in the key markets.

This transformation from a commodity player to a branded one would strengthen its bottomline and ensure its continued presence in markets like the US, the UK and Europe where coffee is the predominant beverage.There are new forms of coffee products that are coming in, which are ready to drink and an interesting area to jointly examine. The move will help the company to grow into a significant beverage player in the United States, sources said.

SOURCurrently it is around 2% to 3% and the company has plans to increase this to around 10% in another 2 years, sources said.

Tata Coffee has 16 coffee estates. The company also owns two tea estates, all of which are located in the districts of Coorg, Hassan and Chickmaglur in Karnataka, where the coffee is entirely shade-grown. The company also recently acquired five tea gardens and another coffee estate in the Annamallais region of Tamil Nadu.