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Kumbilappam conquers taste buds in US, UK: Kerala farmers’ collective earns lakhs exporting it

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Ever thought Kumbilappam, a traditional snack of Kerala, would become a global food product earning revenue in lakhs? Yes, a farmers’ collective from Neeloor in Kerala is exporting over 50,000 Kumbilappams per month to the United States and the United Kingdom, cashing in on the huge demand for this traditional snack overseas.

It was in 2016 that over 650 farmers spread across Kerala came together to form a company called Neeloor Producer Company Limited at Neeloor in Pala, Kottayam. Though they started their operations marketing honey farmed by local farmers and chips made from jackfruit and tapioca, they soon realized that they needed to think out of the box to make a positive impact in the market.

Kumbilappam, also known as Therali Appam, is prepared by mixing rice flour, grated coconut, jaggery, and jackfruit. The mixture is then wrapped in Vayana or Therali leaves (Bay Leaves) and steamed, which gives the dish a special aroma and medicinal values.

“The idea to make Kumbilappam struck us when we were thinking to introduce a novel food product in the market. As we used to collect jackfruits from farmers, we knew that we could make pulp out of it and make Kumbilappams using it. The biggest challenge we faced was the storage of the pulp. We found a solution to it by zeroing in on a cold storage facility where the pulp is stored in strict hygiene settings,” said Neeloor Producer Company Chairman Mathew Cyriac.

Currently, the company has employed over 30 women staff to make Kumbilappams under strict hygiene conditions. The company has also made a special steamer to prepare 1,250 Kumbilappams in an hour. As per the details, each Kumbilappam weighing around 80 gm to 85 gm is sold at Rs 35 in the international market.

“We started it on a trial basis, making over 100 Kumbilappams and distributing them in the local market. As our Kumbilappam grabbed people’s taste buds, more orders started coming in. Soon, we got an export order from an agency. Now we are exporting over 50,000 Kumbilappams to the United States, the Middle East, and the United Kingdom. We have taken over an old facility to convert it into an exclusive Kumbilappam production unit,” Mathew Cyriac told “Open Digest“.

The company procures fresh bay leaves from Palakkad and Kottayam districts. “Bay leaf is one of the most important parts in Kumbilappam. So, we take utmost care in procuring high-quality fresh bay leaves,” he said.

The farmers’ collective is also planning to scout markets in major cities in the country for its Kumbilappam. “We are in discussion with various stakeholders to market the Kumbilappam to more cities in the country,” he added.

3 Comments

  1. Anonymous May 7, 2024

    Wow!kudos,our humble Kumble Appam became global,how you preserve it,what is it shelf life? I made some at home(kattappana) brought here (Chennai) it became an instant hit as a snack,then I thought of marketing but gave up due to my prime occupation.We call bay leaves “Edana Ela”,thank you
    Devasia

  2. Tony May 8, 2024

    Congratulations to Mathew cyriac and team. I am a hotelier since 2000, So I can understand the hard work and dedication behind it.

  3. Madhu Soman May 9, 2024

    Congratulations to you all for putting the humble Kumbilappam on the global map. Would like to know if your product is available locally.

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