Local players rule the roost as Kerala looks to have its pappad & eat it too
Shortage of good quality raw materials, mainly black gram, and overcharging by suppliers are major challenges faced by manufacturers.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It’s all in the crumble, and how the cash registers jingle! The pappad, or pappadam in local parlance, is an indispensable part of Malayali cuisine, be it the traditional sadya or biryani. Interestingly, local players continue to rule the roost in the state’s multi-crore pappad industry as big brands have so far shown no interest in grabbing a piece of the pie.
Close to 70 lakh pappads are sold in the state daily, says Abraham C Jacob, president of the Kerala Pappad Manufacturers Association. With over four decades of industry experience, the 63-year-old is believed to be the first to introduce mechanisation in pappad manufacturing, in 1984.
“The association conducted a study. Our conservative estimate is that manufacturers use an average of 35 tonnes of dough a day. That translates to some 65-70 lakh pappads. The actual figure will be more because some home-based manufacturers were not taken into consideration,” he told TNIE.
Kerala has an estimated 1,500 manufacturers and 800 of them are association members. The average daily turnover in the state is about Rs 50.75 lakh.
Shortage of good quality raw materials, mainly black gram, and overcharging by suppliers are major challenges faced by manufacturers. But things are looking up for the industry, thanks to the common facility centre (CFC) coming up in Kochuveli, Thiruvananthapuram. The CFC is a joint initiative of the state and Union governments and the Ananthapuram Pappad Cluster Association.
The CFC will supply all raw materials – including black gram flour, rice flour, salt and refined-grade sodium bicarbonate to manufacturers at reasonable rates. It will directly procure black gram and rice from farmers. Milling will be done at the centre’s facility using high-end machinery. The CFC will have the capacity to produce 25 tonnes of black gram flour and 10 tonnes of rice flour a day.
The centre will cater to the needs of at least 60% of manufacturers in Kerala, says Abraham. “It will be a big relief for manufacturers, especially small-time players who are at the mercy of suppliers. Besides quality issues, suppliers jack up prices during festival seasons, when demand is high. Contrary to popular belief, manufacturers make less profit during the festival season,” he added.
Moisture mars exports
Kerala pappads are not in much demand in the export market, due to their high moisture content. Overseas sales are largely limited to Gulf countries. It is transported to the region mostly by vegetable dealers.