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Coffee and Tea Reports from the Front Lines

Germany, A Coffee Exporter?

Germany - Germany has become the world’s fourth largest coffee exporter. While the country does not grow any coffee, is ahead of such traditional producers as Indonesia, Guatamala and Mexico. The country trails only Brazil, Vietnam and Colombia.

In 2001, Germany re-exported 5.4 million bags (of 60 kilograms each), 23% more than 2000, when the country ranked ninth in exporting countries. The figures are from the International coffee Organizations (ICO). The largest market for German coffee exporters is Eastern Europe.

“Germany re-exports processed coffee at prices up to five times more than what it pays for the product,” says Nathan Herszkowicz, president of the Sao Paulo State Coffee Producers Association (Sindicafé).

German coffee imports reached a new record last year, according to Miguel Barbosa do Rosário, an analyst at Coffee Business. He says 15.3 million bags were imported, 3.6 million of which from Brazil.

Belgium is just behind Germany in the ranking of the world’s largest coffee re-exporters. It re-exported 2.3 million bags last year, followed by the U.S . with 2.2 million. According to the ICO, re-exports totaled 18.8 million bags last year.

Green Tea Imports from China Surge
China - Imports of green tea into Japan in 2001 surged 23.8% from the previous year to 17,739 metric tons, marking the third consecutive year the figure has hit a record high, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported. As much as 90% of the imports originated in China, with the average price standing at 300-500 yen per kilogram, 80% lower than that for green tea produced in Japan, stated the Nikkei Weekly recently.

An increasing number of Japanese tea manufacturers, including Ito En Ltd., are cultivating green tea in China, attracted by the country’s cheaper labor. They are also taking increasing advantage of locally made tea-refining machines available at one-third the cost of those sold in Japan. These factors have encouraged some companies to transfer the entire tea-production process to China.

Coffee May Fight Cavities, Study Finds
Italy - A new study shows compounds in coffee loosen the grip of bacteria that cause tooth decay, reported Science News. Researchers from the Universities of Pavia and Ancona in Italy prepared coffees from beans of various origins and degrees of roast. They put the brews into test tubes containing saliva-coated hydroxyapatite, a compound in teeth. They also added Streptococcus mutans bacteria, which stick to teeth and cause cavities.

In the test tubes filled with coffee, at least 40% fewer bacteria attached to the hydroxyapatite than in test tubes with no coffee. Some varieties of beans were more effective at thwarting the microbes when lightly roasted; other beans did a better job when dark roasted.

Separate tests suggest that several chemical components of coffee contributed to the effect, Gabriella Gazzani of the University of Pavia and her colleagues report in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Starbucks Coming to Germany
Germany - Continuing its path of international success, Starbucks plans to conquer the German coffeeshop market this year for the first time by opening 1,500 retail outlets. “We want to open up to 200 coffee shops over the next four years," said Peter Maslen, president of Starbucks International.

Starbucks has found a local partner in Germany in Karlstadt-Quelle, the department store and mail order company based in North Rhine-Westphalia, which has confirmed plans to establish Starbucks as the biggest coffee shop business chain nationwide. It will have a majority 82% shareholding in the business Investments will initially run at 11 million Euros a year. According to ceo Wolfgang Urban of Karstadt-Quelle, the companies expect an annual turnover between 1.2 and 1.3 million euros per shop.

To date, Starbucks owns 4,700 coffee shops in 24 countries, including 900 outside the U.S.

Russian Coffee Prices Won’t Drop Soon, Say Experts
Russia - Coffee prices in Russia will remain at the earlier level in the near future, Russian coffee market experts said when commenting on Western media reports on the next price drop on the New York exchange.

“A drop in prices on green beans in New York basically cannot affect the value of finished product in Russia,” Interfax quoted Alexander Malchik, president of the Russian Coffee Producers Union and the company Montana Coffee, which owns a roasting plant in Moscow, as saying. The proportion of unroasted beans in the value of finished product is sufficiently small. “Just suppose, if the value of finished product is US$60 million, the proportion of green beans here does not exceed US$five million. If there is some kind of price change, it would be no earlier than in half a year,” he said. This is attributable to the fact that coffee purchase contracts are concluded several months in advance. Thus, coffee is currently being produced from beans bought at higher prices.

“Russian retail prices on coffee already have nowhere to fall, they are significantly lower than in European countries,” the news agency quoted Igor Khramov, director general of the company Blyuz, which has a roasting plant in Dubna (Moscow region), as saying.

However, Khramov forecasted the next one and a half to two years would see quality coffee get more expensive. “In order to produce good coffee it is necessary most of all to irrigate plantations, but this is a very costly procedure, and with the constant drop of world coffee bean prices many producers simply do not have enough resources for this,” Khramov said. As a result, coffee quality has declined.

The drop of coffee prices in New York will not lead to a reduction in the cost of instant coffee, said Yuri Snegirev, the marketing director at the company Kraft Foods, which has a coffee packaging plant in the Leningrad region. The raw materials part in the cost of instant coffee is even lower than in the cost of natural coffee, he said. Its final cost in large part is determined by expenditures on production, packaging and transportation. Current per capita coffee consumption in Russia is from 300 to 700 grams per year.

Tea & Coffee - April/May 2002


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