• THE-COFFEE-GUIDE.gif 
  • QA 144
    Question:
    Are consumer tastes in Germany changing?
    Background:
    We understand that consumer tastes in Germany are changing and that there is less demand for acidic coffees like we produce here in Kenya. Is this so and does this mean we are losing our market there?
    Asked by:
    Co-operative - Kenya
    Answer:

    Consumer tastes in Germany have changed in recent years as shown below

    Percentage of Green Bean Imports by ICO quality group

    1990

    2005

    Colombian mild arabicas

    44%

    13%

    Other mild arabicas

    29%

    25%

    Brazilian  and other natural arabicas

    13%

    33%

    Robustas

    14%

    29%



    * See topic 01.02.03 of the Guide for details of the ICO quality groups

    Kenya coffee forms part of the Colombian mild arabica group (together with Colombia and Tanzania) and, as shown above, the share of that group in German green bean imports has fallen dramatically. Total intake of washed arabicas (Colombian and Other mild arabicas where acidic coffees would be found) has fallen from 73% in 1990 to 38% in 2005. Conversely, the intake of Brazilian type arabicas and robustas has risen from 27% to 62% - these groups do not represent acidic coffees as such.

    Of course one should recognise that the quality of Brazilian arabicas has improved considerably in recent years whereas modern technology has made it possible to increase the proportion of neutral tasting robustas in many blends. Nevertheless these statistics do indicate that the bulk of Germany coffee consumption has changed focus towards milder tasting, i.e. less acidic coffees.

    In terms of individual producer performance there have been clear winners and losers:

                 Germany: leading green coffee suppliers 1990-2005

     

                                                         1990                           2005

    Supplier

    Bags

    % of total

    Bags

    % of total

    Brazil

    994

    8%

    4,246

    28%

    Vietnam

    nil

    nil

    2,549

    17%

    Colombia

    3,356

    26%

    1,447

    10%

    Indonesia

    600

    5%

    1,405

    9%

    Peru

    86

    0.5%

    741

    5%

    Ethiopia

    277

    2%

    677

    5%

    Honduras

    148

    1%

    671

    4%

    Papua New Guinea

    435

    3%

    478

    3%

    El Salvador

    700

    6%

    441

    3%

    Guatemala

    232

    2%

    283

    2%

    Kenya

    515

    4%

    225

    1.5%

    Total imports

    12,702,000

     

    14,996,000

     



    In '000 of 60 kg bags - figures have been rounded.
    Source: European Coffee Federation Annual Reports - www.ecf-coffee.org

    As far as Kenya is concerned we would however stress that current (April 2007) very high prices for top quality Kenya coffees once again clearly show that the demand for really fine or exemplary coffees, offering good balance between acidity, body and flavour, continues unabated. However, today this demand probably originates from a wider and different range of markets, particularly some segments of the specialty sector that has been showing strong growth. In other words, we believe the demand for truly special Kenya coffee remains strong, i.e. perhaps the concern should be more to ensure that the availability of such coffees remains adequate. For more on coffee quality see chapter 11 of the Guide.


    Posted 16 April 2007

    Related chapter(s):
    Related Q & A:
    Q&A 068, 081, 083,123, 125, 131