• QA 162
    Organic coffee - where are the main producers?
    Where to find the principal producers of organic coffee?
    Asked by:
    Importer - Argentina

    Latin America, particularly Peru. However, data on the production, export and consumption of organic certified coffee are difficult to come by and are not always complete…

    • Details of the amount of organic coffee that is produced are not always available because not all organically produced coffee is necessarily traded as such. For example if the quality does not merit any organic premium and the coffee is simply disposed of as conventional.
    • The International Coffee Organization in London (www.ico.org), through its Certificates of Origin system, requires producing members to report whether exports are organic or not. But not all actually do so.
    • Importing countries do not report whether incoming shipments contain organic or conventional coffee. Furthermore there is a huge amount of intra-European coffee trade in the world's largest importer - the European Union. This makes it literally impossible to trace the origin, let alone the nature (organic or conventional) of many consignments travelling between member countries.

    Nevertheless, and with the proviso that these figures may not be complete or necessarily entirely accurate, industry and ICO data suggest that some 860,000 bags of organic coffee (GBE) were exported in 2006. Of these Latin America accounted for 84% (of which 64% from Peru), Africa 14% (of which 93% from Ethiopia), and Asia for 2% (all from Papua New Guinea).

    In terms of production it is extremely difficult to obtain accurate information but it seems clear that Peru is currently by far the world's leading producer of organic coffee. Colombia, Mexico and Nicaragua are also leading producers although much smaller than Peru. In Africa Ethiopia is currently by far the main producer, as is Papua New Guinea in Asia. To bear in mind though that recorded export figures are not necessarily representative of total production, nor are all exports currently recorded. There are countries whose production/exports of organic certified coffee are not easily captured and, indeed, industry sources suggest that total import consumption in 2006 was around 1 million bags (GBE).

    Nevertheless, it is generally accepted that there is an over supply of some types of organic coffee: industry sources suggest total production for 2007 could reach as much as 1.5 million bags (GBE), against estimated total import consumption of around 1.1 million bags. In addition there is also (limited) domestic consumption in some coffee producing countries, like Brazil.

    To note also that the quality of some organic coffee does not merit any premium and so it ends up being sold as conventional. And premiums for different organic coffees vary substantially: from as low as US$ 5 to 10 cts/lb, to US$ 25 cts/lb and above for coffees showing the kind of quality that continues to attract good demand…

    Posted 24 August 2007

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