• The European Union - Background


    With the accession of Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic and Slovenia the EU now has 27 member countries with an estimated population of 496.2 million. According to the European Commission the EU will be the largest barrier-free market in the world, bigger than the US, Canada and Mexico together, with prospects of further growth as yet more countries may join. 

    In terms of green coffee imports, the 27 EU member states between them accounted for an estimated 49.6 million bags in 2009 (ICO), including intra EU trade and at 46.2 million bags excluding intra EU trade.  The European Coffee Federation’s figures are very similar.

    One consequence of the single EU market is however that, strictly speaking, there is no intra-EU import or export, only movement of goods. This is more than just terminology. It means in practice that the vast majority of imports are declared at the point of entry into the EU and not at the point of destination. This tends to increase gross import figures for those countries with the major points of importation (in essence, the major ports). At the same time, the single market means that the earlier documentary requirements for cross-border traffic no longer exist. Operators are required to report cross-border traffic to the statistical bodies, but only above a certain value and/or volume. Eurostat, the EU statistical office, has developed models to extrapolate total intra-EU movement of goods on the basis of the reported data, but these have their limitations.

    For these reasons data on the movement of green as well as finished coffee within the EU have inevitably become less accurate. However, not only do many of the statistics for individual EU country coffee imports produced by both the EU authorities and the ICO not always present the total picture, but there are also differences between them. Most individual EU member country statistics must, therefore, be treated with some caution.

    After deduction of intra-EU trade, net total green bean imports into the 27-member EU for
    2009 work out at some 46.2 million bags. The six top suppliers were Brazil (32%), Vietnam (19%), Indonesia (6%) Honduras (5%) Colombia (5%) and Peru (5%).

    Section 02.04 provides summary data on the coffee imports of individual EU countries; section 02.05 for selected other countries in Europe.

    In this context green coffee means not decaffeinated and from all sources, so also from other European countries. Green bean imports are identified by country of origin but not all was necessarily imported directly from origin. 

    The source for most import/export data for the EU countries that were members as at 31 December
    2009, as well as for Norway and Switzerland, is the European Coffee Federation’s European Coffee Report 2009, which itself draws on data provided by Eurostat and member associations. Other data are taken ex ICO and other trade statistics. Although it is an EU member in its own right, Luxembourg’s coffee statistics are combined with those for Belgium. The full ECF 2009 Coffee Report and earlier issues can be viewed and downloaded from www.ecf-coffee.org

    Data on Eastern European countries mostly originate from F.O. Licht’s International Coffee Report, and the ICO.

    Imports/exports of processed coffee are expressed as GBE. All figures have been rounded. 

    Sustainability. Since 2003 the European industry has been working on a comprehensive concept for ‘mainstream coffee on its way to sustainability’, through an initiative known as the Common Code for the Coffee Community or 4C. This aims at establishing a scheme of continuous improvement of the social, ecological and economic principles in the production, processing and trading of mainstream coffee (which constitutes about 90% of all coffee traded).  The 4C Association was formally established in early 2007 with its Secretariat in Bonn, Germany. The first 4C coffee became available in October 2007.
    www.4c-coffeeassociation.org  and  topic box 03.05.06 for more.

    Specialty. Although many Western European countries have traditionally consumed high quality coffees, in recent years the specialty concept has gained considerable acceptance amongst European consumers. See 03.01.08 and 09 for more.
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