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from the Front Lines

Hencorp Urges Coffee Industry to Help El Salvador After Quake
NEW YORK, U.S. - Following the first devastating earthquake in El Salvador, the Hencorp Coffee Group urged members of the coffee industry worldwide to join together to assist Salvadorans and help rebuild the country.

In cooperation with the Salvadoran American Health Foundation (SAHF), Hencorp invited industry members to donate to a fund to be used to offer humanitarian assistance to the people of El Salvador.

Contributions will be used immediately to provide emergency shelter, food and medical care. Additional funds will be sent to assist in rebuilding housing, schools, healthcare facilities, coffee-processing plants, roads and bridges.

The earthquake had a magnitude of 7.6 on the Richter Scale and was centered about 65 miles (110 km) southwest of San Miguel, El Salvador. Tremors from the powerful quake were felt from northern Panama to central Mexico, a distance of more than 1,100 miles (1,760 km).

More than 400 people died, 779 were reported injured and another 1,200 people were missing. Mudslides buried homes and blocked roads, cutting off many towns and villages - including communities in the country’s coffee-growing regions.

SAHF arranges for donations of essential pharmaceuticals, medical supplies and equipment from International Relief Agencies in the United States and handles shipment to El Salvador.

Through its extensive medical distribution network, FUSAL provides an important lifeline of goods to nearly 400 hospitals, clinics, rural health posts, and other charitable institutions throughout El Salvador. It has also identified and developed far-reaching programs designed to empower the poor to help themselves by providing them with the tools they need to assume responsibility for their health and welfare.

Donations to the fund can be made to The Salvadoran American Health Foundation and be sent care of:

The Hencorp Coffee Group
777 Brickell Avenue
Suite 1010
Miami, FL 33131
Attn: Oscar Schaps

Vicofa Ends Ban on New Coffee Exports
VIETNAM - Vietnam’s Coffee and Cocoa Association (Vicofa) lifted its ban on new coffee export deals, but increased the floor price for exports from $450 a ton to $480 - $500 a ton, reports the Financial Times. The widely expected move, from the world’s leading producer of Robusta, had only a slight effect on world markets.

In London, robusta coffee futures have increased, with January trading up $16 to $677 a ton and March futures up $19 to $669 a ton, reports the Financial Times. Traders in New York said the news helped fuel Arabica’s price increase to 64.70 cents a pound for March futures. The group’s move was viewed as positive by analysts. “Vietnam is finding its pricing policy without damaging world markets,” said Caroline Eagles, an analyst at Commodity expert.

Vietnam’s heavy selling at low prices last year pushed down London robusta futures to 30-year lows at $543 a ton.

The increase in floor price does not cover production costs. Many Vietnamese farmers are now realizing that coffee is no longer the hoped-for miracle crop. Vietnam is attempting to impose some control on its production and, in line with the Association of Coffee Producing Countries (ACPC)’s global retention plan, will attempt to hold back 150,000 tons for six months.

Coffee Prices Predicted to Keep Falling
Athens, Greece -- Coffee prices are expected to continue declining, at least until the summer of 2001, coffee market experts said. Interfax quoted Prodeks company as saying that the price of coffee beans would be the first product affected, with experts predicting a 15% drop in bean prices, reports New Europe. These falling prices are a direct result of higher coffee production worldwide, especially in Brazil and Columbia. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in the 2000/2001 agricultural year, world coffee production totaled 108.7 million bags (60 kilos each), or a 2% increase from the same period last year.

A dramatic increase in competition in the coffee blend market well (coffee in packets - 3 in 1, 2 in 1) is expected to reduce their prices as well. However, experts do not predict any sharp price fluctuations on the instant coffee market. Although a fall may be possible, it will be slight since instant coffee’s price is already low, experts suggest.

Taxation Without Representation
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - Brazil and the European Union (EU) are trying to find a bilateral solution to a trade conflict regarding instant coffee, states the Gazeta Mercantil. Brazil lodged a complaint at the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the 9% tariff placed on its product as a means to combat illicit cocoa production, while noting that the EU exempts Colombia, Bolivia and Ecuador of the tariff. According to Brazil, the EU has surpassed the limits of discriminatory trade practices.

Teatime in the Garden
DORSET, ENGLAND - Clipper Teas announces the arrival of the UK’s first living tea garden, which is comprised of 700 tea plants imported from the Nilgiri Mountains of India. The undertaking is called Eden Project.

Importing tea plants is not an easy task. Quarantine regulations prohibit foreign soil from entering Britain, so a method of protecting the incredibly delicate roots of these plants has been devised using ex-foliated vermiculite and sterile cotton wool to wrap the roots and keep them moist during transit. At Eden itself, the soil conditions have been prepared to exacting standards under the expert guidance of a tea estate manager from the Nilgri plantation and the horticultural team at Eden.

As it grows, the tea exhibit will host themed events including tea tasting sessions with Clipper’s Master Tea Taster and co-founder, Michael Brehme. Clipper has also commissioned a “mini tea factory” to add to the exhibition, which enables visitors to pluck, roll, wither and dry their own unique brew. “Working together with Clipper, we are looking forward to a bright future,” says Eden Project’s Dr. Jo Readman. “We are very keen to showcase businesses and projects that are working towards a sustainable future. We hope that visitors will enjoy and discover more about their tea, and the way it is grown, by being able to trace it from bush to cup.”

Coffeehouse for Sale
JELØ, NORWAY - A cup of coffee is sold just about everywhere, but not every café sells the cups and plates along with the coffee. “de Blå bord” (“The Blue Tables”) is a mixture of a café and a shop, a “lifestyle store,” reports the Norway Times. Here, the customer may buy much more than coffee, the customer may purchase the chair he sits on, the coffee cup he drinks from, or the paintings on the walls that he admires. Owner Signe Kirsebom is a collector of antiques, and has a whole warehouse to restock from.

El Salvador Crop Shaken by Quake
EL SALVADOR - The chairman of the ICO executive board, Fernando Andrade Diaz-Duran of Guatemala, stressed the need for assistance for the half million people left homeless by the disaster and said “the Executive Board of the International Coffee Organization would like to express its full support for the people of El Salvador at this time of crisis.” He went on to say that Central American countries were assisting El Salvador by providing helicopters and personnel, and coffee associations in the region were in contact with the Consejo Salvadoreno del Café (CSC) to offer their support. Reconstruction has already commenced and he expressed his deep appreciation to the British Government for its prompt response to the disaster. He appealed for help from the public to meet the immediate needs of the people of El Salvador such as food, medicines and shelter.

Further information about the effects of the earthquake can be obtained from the web site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in El Salvador: www.rree.gob.sv. Donations can be posted to the Embassy of El Salvador in London or to Riggs Bank, as follows: Account name: El Salvador Earthquake, Account number:75511012, Sort Code40-61-53, Bank:Riggs Bank West End Office; 60 St. James’s Street (Tel: +44 (0) 20 7647 6019)

The administration and distribution of funds are being supervised by the international firms of auditors, Price Waterhouse and Peat Marwick & Mitchel.

Tea & Coffee - March/April 2001
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