• QA 056
    How is green coffee exported?

    Asked by:
    Student - Colombia

    Your question does not make it clear if you mean export marketing, or the physical process of exporting, or both… In any case we assume you are mainly interested in the marketing aspects. We believe you should be able to gather much information from our website but nevertheless offer the following brief pointers that may guide you in your research.

    For a brief technical overview of how green coffee is produced and graded go to 11.01.01/02 and 01.01.03. See who produces it at 01.05.05 and see who imports it (and in what form) in chapter 02. See chapter 03 for information on specialty coffee and other types as organic etc.

    Export marketing systems vary from country to country. Some countries control export marketing through a central authority or board but most have entirely free marketing systems with central authorities monitoring quality and performance. In free systems producers may export themselves, they may sell to local exporters or they may work through their own organizations. Usually though only the larger growers manage to export direct. Small growers (smallholders) mostly sell to traders, exporters or through their own organizations, including cooperatives, which may also market internationally. A few countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi) market green coffee through central auctions where local exporters are the buyers.

    There are two distinct markets for coffee: mainstream (perhaps 90% of the total) and specialty coffee. Mainstream type coffee is more often than not marketed through large trade houses and purchased by a relatively small number of multi-national roasters. Specialty coffee is often shipped directly by smaller producers and exporters to importers abroad although some roasters like Starbucks also buy direct. A number of producing countries, including Colombia, are making efforts to market coffee, green and roasted, under their own label.

    See chapter 02 for an overview of the structure of the coffee trade, the different products that are retailed and who imports what. Go to QA 007 in the Q&A Archive for details on how to source import market information. Note also that the role of exporters and importers in the coffee trade is often the subject of debate and in this respect you may find QA's 018, 021, 035 and 045 of interest.

    For information on how export contracts are concluded and formulated, see chapter 04 Contracts. For information on shipping and logistics generally see chapter 05.

    Visit some of the following websites for related information on coffee: www.ico.org , www.ncausa.org , www.ecf-coffee.org , www.scaa.org , www.scae.com , www.p-maps.org , www.theice.com , www.coffeenetwork.com , www.sustainable-coffee.net , www.cupofexcellence.org , www.supremo.be .

    After formulating a first draft research paper please feel free to revert to us with specific questions to fill in any blanks.

    Posted 07 November 2005

    Related chapter(s):
    Related Q & A:
    QA 007 018 021 035 045