• QA 167
    What is the volume and structure of the coffee trade between Vietnam and The Netherlands?
    What volumes of coffee are traded between Vietnam and The Netherlands? And how this market is 'arranged'?
    Asked by:
    Student - The Netherlands

    Imports of Vietnamese coffee into The Netherlands are growing strongly, reaching an estimated 19% of all green coffee imports in 2006. Most of this trade is conducted through international trade houses and roaster buying offices located outside of The Netherlands.

    The Vietnamese share is growing strongly despite the fact that total green coffee imports show little or no growth.

    Green coffee imports into The Netherlands *

    • 2004 Total 2,413,000 bags of which Vietnam 262,400 or about 11%
    • 2005 Total 2,424,000 bags of which Vietnam 318,600 or about 13%
    • 2006 Total 2,419,000 bags of which Vietnam 469,000 or about 19%

    This is not surprising considering that Vietnam is now the world's second largest producer overall (after Brazil), and by far the largest producer of robusta coffee. Some of the traditional suppliers on the other hand such as Indonesia, Uganda and Côte d'Ivoire, have either decreased production or have been displaced for price reasons. There may also be some displacement of arabica by somewhat cheaper robusta - the same phenomena can be observed in a number of other coffee importing countries. **

    The structure of this trade has its origin in two main factors:

    • The well known roaster Douwe Egberts holds by far the majority market share in The Netherlands (about two thirds) and is owned by the multi national Sara Lee Corporation. For many years already green coffee purchasing has been centralised in a buying office in Switzerland.
    • Many roasters nowadays prefer to buy green coffee on the basis: delivered at our roasting plant, as and when we require it. That is to say: Just In Time. This is difficult for smaller importers and has resulted in an ever-increasing share of this type of business for the large international trade houses, none of which are located in the Netherlands itself. Of course Dutch importers also bring in Vietnamese coffee but we estimate that the tonnage is limited.

    To note that there is also a growing intra-European trade in coffee. In 2006 The Netherlands also imported an estimated 839,000 bags (green coffee equivalent) of roasted and soluble coffee - most of this came from other EU countries and its real origins are therefore unknown.  The same goes for the 5% of green coffee imports that came from other EU countries. ***

    *  Bags of 60 kg net - Source: European Coffee Federation. 2006 data estimated.
    **  For more on robusta and arabica see chapter 11 of the Guide.
    *** For more data, also on EU trade in coffee generally, go to www.ecf-coffee.org and look for Annual  Reports. Other information on coffee in The Netherlands is available at www.koffiethee.nl.

    Related chapter(s):
    Related Q & A:
    Q&A 007, 057, 076, 091, 122.