Leading coffee exporter & supplier brews own brand

Fifty-year-old exporter and supplier to leading brands, SLN Coffee has now launched its own brand of instant coffee, Levista. With plans to enter the cafe business as well, the company hopes to grab 5 per cent share of the instant coffee market in three years.

Buoyed by the positive response it has received during test marketing, SLN is initially launching Levista in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the two states that account for 70 per cent of the instant coffee market. Levista will be available in the retail shelves in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh soon and in less than two years it will be a pan-India brand.

We have been in the coffee business for 50 years. We launched our export business in 1997 and started producing instant coffee for export markets in 2007. We think the time is right for launching our own brand as the instant coffee market is now growing at 10 to 15 per cent and the consumption among the young customers is growing rapidly,’ said N Sathappan, MD, SLN Coffee.

SLN produces 50,000 tonnes of both bean coffee and instant coffee for both domestic and 30 export markets. It exports 20,000 tonnes of bean coffee mainly to European countries and 10,000 tonnes of instant coffee to Russia and CIS countries. In the domestic market, SLN supplies 20,000 tonnes of both bean coffee and soluble coffee to some of the leading coffee brands including Café Coffee Day, Bru, Leo and Duncan.

Levista is priced competitively against leading brands of instant coffee. “We have four variants –Classic with 100 per cent coffee, Premium with 80 per cent coffee and 20 per cent chicory, Strong with 60 per cent coffee and Super Strong with 53 per cent coffee and rest chicory. While the other premium brands have 70 per cent coffee, ours is priced slightly lower with 80 per cent coffee,” he said.

“Levista is being produced from the coffee grown in our own coffee plantations that produce 300 to 400 tonnes of coffee and it is sufficient for Levista. We would be procuring coffee from other plantations as well,’ he added.

SLN hopes to grow Levista coffee sales to 1000 tonnes in three years, thus grabbing roughly five per cent share of the 21,000 tonnes of instant coffee market in India. This will take the domestic revenues of the company to Rs 500 crore from the current Rs 350 crore. In two to three years, the company wants to touch a turnover of Rs 1000 crore from current sales of Rs 800 crore.

In order to augment the proposed growth in Levista brand, the company has added 5000 tonnes capacity to its instant coffee plant in Coorg for an investment of Rs 60 crore. Now the plant has a total capacity of 8000 tonnes. The company also has three green bean factories.

SLN, which ships one-sixth of the total coffee exports from India, also wants to bring the “bean to brew” experience of coffee to the customer by launching Levista cafes. It has launched a café and plans to open three –four more in Coorg to showcase the processes involved in bringing the beans from the plantation to the cup. The café targeting the tourists, sells Levista coffee and also brews the coffee for them.

“In the next phase we will take these cafes outside Coorg to other parts of the country,” said Sathappan.


Sangeetha G.