Earlier this month, the Indian Coffee Board proposed to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to reduce chicory content in coffee. 

The Coffee Board has been pursuing this matter for a while as the addition of chicory, while traditional among the country’s coffee producers for reasons we’ll explain, could be misleading to the consumer, and result in a product that may appear as inferior, lower quality, coffee.

They made a fresh proposal after not all stakeholders agreed to the idea. The new proposal stated that products made only from coffee beans, should be labelled as ‘100% coffee’; those that contain a chicory content that’s less than the coffee content should be labelled as ‘coffee with chicory’; while those that contain more chicory than coffee should be labelled, ‘chicory with coffee’. The proposal seems to be a sensible one to clear up any confusion and ensure the consumer understands what they are buying.

At the moment, the amount of chicory allowed in a product labelled as ‘coffee’ is up to 49%

The inclusion of chicory was introduced during the Second World War when coffee production plunged. When added to coffee, the brew gets a distinct flavour and appears stronger. Nowadays, brands are adding more chicory content to protect their margins as coffee prices climb.

Karnataka is one of the largest coffee producing cities in the country, and the impact on coffee quality is also impacting the city’s reputation. However, stakeholders in Northern India, particularly chicory growers, are against this new proposal as they claimed it would affect their business, and presumably, consumers are used to paying lower prices for products labelled as coffee.

The proposal by the Coffee Board provides a clear understanding between producers and consumers. If the chicory content is reduced, coffee will be priced higher.  some business representatives are concerned about how consumers will react to the relabelling of products,  and the disclosure of the level of chicory content.

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