Agri Business

VG Siddhartha's demise is a big loss for the coffee sector, say stakeholders

Our Bureau Bengaluru | Updated on July 31, 2019 Published on July 31, 2019

File Photo of Cafe coffee Day (CCD) promoter V G Siddhartha.   -  BusinessLine

Siddhartha’s Café Coffee Day raised the profile of Indian coffees and boosting consumption across India

India’s coffee sector has suffered a big loss with the passing away of VG Siddhartha, Chairman of the Coffee Day Global. Siddhartha is credited with raising the profile of Indian coffees and boosting its consumption across country, mainly in the traditional tea drinking North India.

He had also played a role in the marketing of coffees in the post-liberalisation era.

“He was a beacon to all of us,” said Bose Mandanna, a large grower in Suntikoppa, near Madikeri. “He was the first one to bring Indian coffees to the forefront and made it popular among the youngsters. We lost a great man,” Mandanna said.

Siddhartha had gone missing near the bridge on Nethravathi river near Mangaluru on Monday evening and his body was found on Wednesday morning.

Phenomenal rise

Stakeholders say Siddhartha’s rise in the coffee sector was phenomenal and coincided with the end of the pooling system in the mid-ninetees, when coffee was a controlled commodity.

“He led a delegation of growers to the then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao and played a key role in convincing him to free up the marketing of coffees,” said BS Jayarama, President of Karnataka Growers Federation, a body of small growers. Indian coffee sector is dominated by small growers, who account for 98 per cent of the holdings.

After the free sale quota was brought in, Siddhartha floated Amalgamated Bean Company (ABC) in 1995, which started sourcing coffee from thousands of small growers.

“Many growers and their families in Chikkamagalur and Hassan districts have benefited by his initiatives,” Jayarama said, adding that over 20,000 growers sell their coffees to ABC. “The prices announced by ABC every morning are considered a benchmark for the industry and growers were assured of guaranteed payment by the company,” he said.

Siddhartha’s penchant for value-addition led him to set up the Café Coffee Day, a chain of coffee outlets across the country. “He changed the profile in the domestic market, making concept of coffee shops, raised the profile of the Indian coffee and took it to the North. Made it a high profile beverage in the rest of India,” said Ramesh Rajah, President, Coffee Exporters Association.

‘Untimely demise’

“Chikkmagaluru is going to see a big change with his absence because he was buying lot of coffees. He was one among the growers and that gave them the confidence,” Rajah said. ABC is one of the large exporters of Indian coffees.

“Coffee Board deeply mourns the untimely demise of VG Siddhartha who built the coffee company Café Coffee Day and several other enterprises and provided employment to thousands of rural youth from coffee districts and helped growers and others in the coffee ecosystem,” said Srivatsa Krishna, Secretary and CEO, Coffee Board, in a statement. “We offer our deepest condolences to his family and employees and hope God will give them strength to overcome these difficult times,” he said.

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Published on July 31, 2019
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