Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

Coffee Market: Africa’s Special Role

Article from AFRIC Editorial
Despite the special popularity of an uplifting drink (coffee), and the global presence in the life of a modern person, the coffee market remains quite archaic. This is due both to its “colonial” origin and to the peculiarities of competition in the market, where a small number of manufacturers and traders dictate to producers, and partly consumers, their ideas about the quality of the product. Despite the absence in the list of the largest coffee producers, African countries remain the recognized homeland of coffee and coffee grown in Africa, highly appreciated by real gourmets of coffee.

Coffee market

Coffee is an indispensable and significant attribute of the Western lifestyle today. And at the same time, coffee ranks first among all colonial goods, as the most famous and most exported product. As a source of income for 25 million manufacturers around the world, the coffee sector is facing social and environmental problems, and has a complex certification and labeling system associated with increased demands on the quality of this product from the modern consumer society.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the history of coffee is, first of all, the success story of marketing on a global scale: more than two billion cups of coffee are consumed every day. This is about 200 billion dollars a year. Three transnational corporations (Nestlé, JDE, and Lavazza) today account for 81% of sales — a percentage that was “only” 70%, a decade ago. The downstream sector is characterized by growing concentration, which also affects traders, the five main of which controlled almost 40% of world trade in 2013.

African coffee makers

The birthplace of coffee is Africa. But today, African manufacturers, unfortunately, do not have the same market influence. The world leaders in coffee production are the countries of South America, significantly ahead of African countries. Vietnam and Brazil for Robusta, Colombia and Brazil for Arabica have become major bean producers for the global market.

Coffee production on the African continent is developing, but slower than the global market. Although production and export figures are rising, African countries are far from world leaders in coffee production. And they are unlikely to be able to compete in terms of production and costs with their Asian and South American competitors. The only option is to rely on niche trade flows. Which is largely happening now. For example: Yirgacheffe, one of the oldest Ethiopian coffee brands, exports almost entirely to Saudi Arabia. In Uganda, another major African producer, Robusta has export markets: Sudan and Egypt on the continent, as well as Italy, Germany, Belgium and Spain in Europe.

Below we give a list of African countries producing coffee, with brief characteristics:

  • Angola: the best brands among the Robusta of this country, – Ambriz and Amban;
  • Benin: coffee is grown in the southern part of the country;
  • Burundi: the country’s main agricultural activity is coffee production;
  • Gabon: main deliveries to France and a bit to the Netherlands;
  • Ghana: Robusta is shipped to the UK, the Netherlands and Germany;
  • Guinea: the possibility of growing good Robusta with a neutral taste;
  • R. Congo: 20% Arabica, 80% Robusta;
  • Zambia: Zambian coffee is close to Tanzanian.
  • Zimbabwe: coffee from this country has pronounced fruit acidity;
  • Cameroon: Robusta – the main type of coffee produced;
  • Kenya: famous coffee labels from this country AA and AB;
  • Comoros: they collect high-quality Robusta here;
  • Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast): second largest coffee producer in Africa;
  • Malawi: coffee is comparable in quality to coffee from Kenya;
  • Republic of the Congo: Robusta is mainly cultivated;
  • Reunion: a variety of local Arabica bourbon named after the former French colony;
  • Tanzania: coffee – the first place in the agricultural industry of this country;
  • Uganda: more than 90% of the budget from the sale of coffee;
  • Ethiopia: Sidamo, Kaffa, Harrar, Welllega – famous provinces where they collect excellent coffee.

African coffee

African countries where coffee berries are grown supply the best varieties of Robusta and partially Arabica to the international market. The zone of influence of the coffee belt includes about thirty countries. Each country is characterized by the characteristics of the collection, the primary processing of coffee berries. Some countries are focused on deliveries of coffee to certain regions or cooperate with roasters on contractual terms, while others specialize in growing cheap Robusta. Kenya is a supplier of special high-quality coffee that is labeled AA and AB.

The climatic conditions for growing African coffee are quite severe. Dry, hot summers, mild, humid winters are the reason for the predominance of Robusta. Arabica requires a much more attentive attitude and does not like the lowlands. In this sense, Kenya is a country with favorable conditions for the cultivation of Arabica coffee. An interesting feature is the volcanic soil on which Kenyan coffee grows. The second highest mountain (5 km) on the African continent is also located in Kenya and is of interest from the point of view of coffee producers.

Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Madagascar have plantations for growing coffee at an altitude of 1100 to 2000 m above sea level. Arabica in these regions has soft chocolate and wine tones. African coffee has a special place in the coffee world. The height of its growth is of great importance in the formation of the taste profile, contributing not only to greater acidity, but also the complexity of taste in a cup. In terms of average growth, Africa is ahead of all other coffee-producing regions in the world. Coffee from Africa also boasts that it grows on fertile soil rich in minerals and other nutrients.  Common to most African coffee varieties are high acidity, sweetness, and good saturation, fruity and citrus notes.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

Photo Credit : google image/illustration

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