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Coffee and Tea Reports from the Front Lines

6th EAFCA Conference Convenes in February

Kigali - The 6th African Fine Coffee Conference & Exhibition’s program is finalized. Twenty speakers from all over the world are coming to Rwanda, February 12-14, 2009, to cover various topics. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton will give the keynote address via video during the opening ceremony.

Among other distinguished international and regional speakers that will make presentations at the 2009 conference in Kigali, Rwanda include: Dr. Nestor Osorio, International Coffee Organization (ICO); Judith Ganes Chase, J. Ganes Consulting, LLC, USA; Annette K. Pensel, manager decentralization and support; David Browning, TechnoServe Coffee Initiative; and Susie Spindler, Alliance for Coffee Excellence.

EAFCA has organized an exciting Coffee Safari, which will run between February 8-10 through Rwanda. Visitors will get to see coffee washing stations and experience a night out at the Serena and will include a themed dinner on the shore of Lake Kivu. A day trip to the Akagera National Park is also part of the safari. For more info, visit www.eafca.org/afcc6/coffeesafari.asp.

Laos to Boost Production of Specialty Coffees

Vientiane - The Laos Coffee Association said Laos is now producing organic coffee that conforms to the standards set by the European Union and would be exporting them to the U.S., Japan and Europe next year, said sources.

The president of the Laos Coffee Association, Sinouk Sisombath said it took two years to set up the right conditions to satisfy international standards and that in 2009 Laos would be exporting 20 tons of this type of coffee. The French and German governments have assisted the Association in organic agriculture and in marketing. Sisombath said the association would expand the acreage to increase export volumes. It is estimated that this year’s production of coffee would only be up to 20,000 tons, and this level of production is 30% less than any normal year, as the heavy rains of this years wet season took a toll on the growth of coffee beans by the plants, said the Association president.

Harvesting In India Likely To Start Sooner

Delhi - Industry sources confirm that harvesting operations in India are likely to start nearly a month ahead of schedule this year due to early blossom showers in key coffee regions. Most of the coffee-growing regions have received good blossom showers in February, and it has helped early ripening of fruits.

Arabica harvesting, which usually starts in early December is expected to come three or four weeks earlier. The Coffee Board forecasts a 5% drop in the total output due to untimely rains in October in some parts of Karnataka, which accounts for 70% of the total output. Rain damage is more in Arabica as the fruits were already ripe, but some Robusta crops have also been affected. This year’s crop is estimated at 293,000 tons of which 100,000 tons are Arabica.

UK Fair Trade Not Affected By Global Crisis

London - Barbara Crowther, head of communications at London-based Fair Trade Foundation, said the global financial crisis would not stop consumers from buying premium-cost Fair Trade coffee. She quoted a recent consumer research showing that the public remains committed to their values when it comes to Fair Trade. Crowther said consumers with less disposable income due to the credit crunch, could switch to a cheaper brand or buy their Fair Trade coffee from a different store, rather than abandon the Fair Trade label.

A spokesperson for Nestle and Asda, Britain’s second-biggest supermarket group, confirmed that the global credit crisis had not yet affected sales of Fair Trade coffee adding that Fair Trade coffee sales at Asda were steady, while non-Fair Trade coffees and instant coffees were growing modestly.

Brazil’s Soluble Coffee Exports to U.S.

Sao Paulo - The U.S. was the main buyer of soluble coffee from Brazil in the first nine months of 2008, the Foreign Trade Secretariat or Secex reported. From January through September, the country accounted for 16.8% from all sales of Brazilian soluble. The U.S. bought from Brazil 10,183 tons in the period, against 9,116 tons in the same period of 2007, 12% higher. In second place in 2008 comes Russia, with 11.2% from the market, having bought 6,772 tons, down 25% from the same period of 2007 (9,037 tons). In third place comes Ukraine, with 6.5%.
Uganda’s Coffee Production Expected to Rise

Kampala - Favorable weather conditions in Uganda’s eastern and central coffee regions are enhancing prospects for the 2008-09 main harvest, said an official from Nucafe - National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses and Farm Enterprises.

The region that has profited most from the improved weather since the start of December is the eastern region which produces Uganda’s premium Arabica coffee brands like fully washed AA, A and Drugar. The eastern and central regions account for 55% of Uganda’s total coffee output. The main harvest is expected to peak in January and come to an end around February when the second harvest is due in the west and southern regions.

The Uganda Coffee Development Authority expects for 2008-09 a total output of 3.5 million bags, up from 3.2 million bags the previous season, also due to young coffee trees coming into production.

ASIC Meets in Brazil

Campinas - The Association for Science and Information on Coffee (ASIC) conference, is a bi-annual event with the location alternating each year between a producing and consuming country. More than 450 participants from 38 countries composed of 24 producing and 14 consuming countries attended the venue. The largest delegation was from Brazil followed in sequence by Italy, France and the U.S.

The two central themes for this years conference were; “Coffee and Health” and “Consumption Trends and Coffee Science.” Andrea Illy, president of illycaffe S.p.A. located in Trieste, Italy, is also the president of ASIC and son of the late Dr. Ernesto Illy who was a co-founder and first president of ASIC when it was launched in Paris in 1967.

In his opening remarks Andrea Illy noted that this edition of ASIC in Brazil was particularly significant in view of the country’s leadership in the global coffee economy and the evolution of Brazil’s rural and commercial coffee industry in recent years. This year 371 research papers were presented, almost 50% more than the 250 introduced two years ago at the last conference at Montpellier, France

On the subject of “Coffee and Health,” G.W. Arendash of the Alzheimer Research Center of Florida, U.S., reported that recent studies proved daily consumption of coffee slows the advance of the disease and administration of caffeine can treat the neurological conditions of Alzheimer. Ian S.H.Cadden of the University of Belfast, Ireland and Mathias Baum of Kaiserslayterm University, Germany confirmed that coffee consumption in moderation can protect liver cells from the development of cirrhosis and have proven to be helpful in protecting many types of cells and tissues. Concluding the debate, Nathan Herskowicz, director of ABIC, the Association of Brazilian Coffee Roasters reported that ABIC has launched a program called “Medical Connection.” The program uses the various vehicles of specialized communication to the medical area to continually inform everything related to coffee and health.

With respect to the theme of “Consumption Trends,” Carlos Brando of P&A Marketing International believed that research and development and scientific advances in production and processing “will succeed in uniting quality, price and pleasure resulting in consumption increases.” Also several speakers presented papers on the growing demand in many countries for sustainable products. The consensus was that coffee quality certification by the various agencies will produce consumer confidence and increase consumption. - (Harry Jones)

Tea & Coffee - January, 2009

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