• World market for organic coffee

    Different trade sources have varying views on the size of the market for certified organic coffee. This is not helped by the fact that few consuming countries register organic coffee imports separately. To note also that the 27 European Union member countries increasingly report coffee imports as a single market, making provision of individual country data even more difficult. Nevertheless, indications are, that consumption of certified organic coffee in North America and Europe has been growing fairly strongly, since 2005, in general with growth figures of 5 - 10% annually through 2008. For example, in the North American market, volume growth was reportedly around 12% in 2008 compared to 2007. However, it is not clear as yet to what extent the current worldwide recession may affect more recent growth figures.

    2008 exports of organic coffee are estimated at just over 1.6 million bags. Of these 41 % went to Europe, 48 % to North America and 11 % to Asia and elsewhere.

    A 2010 study by ITC puts 2009 imports at around 1.7 mln bags or not quite 1.4% of the 126 mln bags of 2009 world gross imports (excluding re-exports). Of this 1.4% 45 % went to Europe, 41 % to North America and 14% to Asia and elsewhere.*

    On the export side Peru remains by far the leading exporter with 2009 exports of 406,000 bags GBE and 2010 exports of 423,000 bags GBE. Other producers include Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Hopnduras and Guatemala, with Ethiopia, Honduras and Mexico currently each exporting over 100,000 bags annually.

    To note here that official or recorded export figures are not always complete as not all exporting countries provide the necessary data, making it difficult to be precise.

    To note also that growth in European markets does not necessarily always represent new coffee consumption but rather some consumers moving across from conventional coffee.

    Growth in Japan is very much linked to quality: organic coffee of excellent quality generates increasing consumer interest, something that augurs well for further growth in this segment. Growth potential for average quality organic coffee on the other hand is limited.

    North American growth is also linked to quality. However, the fact that profit margins on certified products as organic usually are higher plays a role as well: also mainstream roasters and retail chains are showing increasing interest… To note also that almost half of all Fairtrade certified coffee is certified organic as well whereas certification by both the Rainforest Alliance and Utz Certified is not only growing strongly but also includes a substantial amount of certified organic.

    On the production side there remains the mistaken belief amongst some that organic coffee does not need to show quality. As a result some organic production simply cannot find premium buyers and ends up being exported uncertified, i.e. as conventional coffee.

    Nevertheless, premia for decent quality organic coffee have probably stabilised somewhat and, under normal market conditions (!), may range from about ten percent upward, however always depending on quality! Therefore, moving into organic coffee continues to remain out of bounds for producers who are unable to provide the required quality, or who under estimate the cost (fees, learning costs, workload and sometimes lower yields, at least in the first few years) that go with making the move. For more on this see 03.02.12.

    *Sustainable Coffee Report by J. Pierrot, D. Giovannucci and A. Kasterine.
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