The Sri Lankan economic crisis has opened up new markets for Kerafed – Kerala’s cooperative federation of coconut growers – coconut oil exports.
‘We have had firm queries from Europe and Australia for the supply of coconut oil, which was previously supplied by Sri Lanka,’ said Ashok R, Managing Director of Kerafed. The island nation’s problem is said to have hampered its coconut product exports, and those outside buyers are looking for alternative sources of supplies.
However, due to the burgeoning home market, Kerafed — India’s largest producer of coconut oil, with monthly sales of 1,000 tonnes — is unable to meet the additional export demand. It is seeking to boost its crushing capacity at the Karunagappilli manufacturing facility from 90 tonnes per day (TPD) to 250 TPD; the facility is expected to be ready in six months, according to Ashok.
Aside from coconut oil, Germany, Malaysia, and other nations have expressed interest in coconut value-added products such as milk powder, desiccated coconut powder, and so on. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, offers cheaper production costs.
Kerafed plans to resume coconut oil exports to Gulf countries, which were halted in 2016 due to a spike in raw coconut costs. Based on demand, it also intends to develop value-added products such as virgin coconut oil, infant care oil, hair oil, packed tender coconut water, chips, and so on.
According to Ashok, the company has recently reduced coconut oil production due to a lack of packing pouches. The supply of polymer, the raw ingredient needed to create the pouches, is said to have been impacted by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Prices have risen from ₹163 to ₹277 per kilogramme. Kerafed has floated tenders from enterprises in Pune and Nagpur to tide over the issue because its supply from Hyderabad has been disrupted.
On the financial front, Ashok stated that Kerafed has made an operational profit for four consecutive years, with the figure reaching ₹13 crore in FY21 on a sales of ₹314 crore. With new value-added coconut goods, the company hopes to reach a ₹1,000-crore revenue in the next five years.