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Coffee and Tea Reports from the Front Lines

European Coffee Federation Restructures

Amsterdam - The European Coffee Federation (ECF), the umbrella organization of the European green coffee trade, coffee roasting industry and soluble coffee manufacturers, has streamlined and strengthened its structure. Its three constituent member associations AFCASOLE (soluble coffee), CECA (green coffee) and EUCA (roasted coffee) have in recent years followed a policy of increasing integration and consolidation of activities. This process has now been completed successfully. As of January, AFCASOLE, CECA and EUCA have merged fully into ECF and have ceased to exist as separate organizations. This means that ECF is now in an even better position to be the single representative voice of the entire European coffee sector, from the largest manufacturer to the smallest trader. ECF covers all non-commercial activities of common interest to its members such as: standard contracts, transport and logistics, international trade rules, import duties, futures markets, food safety, labelling, environmental issues and sustainability.

The ECF Council is the plenary body of all members and the main policy body. It is supported by a 13-person executive committee and a presidium consisting of the ECF president (Mario Cerutti) and three vice presidents from the green, roasted and soluble coffee sub-sectors (Patrick Installe, Christian van Besien and Fiona Kendrick respectively). ECF’s secretary general is Roel Vaessen.

The members of ECF are national coffee associations in 14 European countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K.) plus a number of company members from trade and industry. The total membership of ECF represents an annual import volume of some 40 million bags of green coffee, which is about half of the annual global exports

European Coffee Federation, Tourniairestraat 3, P.O. Box 90445, 1006 BK Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Tel: (31) 20 511 38 15.

New Rural Development Project Aims To Secure Coffee Production in Marginal Areas

Mexico - Executive director, Nestor Osorio recently participated in the launch of a new project, sponsored by the International Coffee Organization (ICO), financed by the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) along with the Government of Mexico. The ICO will also be acting as supervisory body and the Veracruz Produce Foundation will manage the project as the project-executing agency.

In his address, Dr. Osorio explained the role of the organization as an instrument of rural development and poverty alleviation, and emphasized ICO initiatives in the areas of quality and increasing coffee consumption.

The project aims to secure diversification from coffee production in marginal areas located below 600 meters above sea level by adopting more profitable and viable alternative crops. This will also help coffees produced at higher altitudes to be marketed at better prices and with an improved image. An important element in the choice of alternative crops is forest products, which require a long-term investment but have considerable potential. Another objective is to develop production methods with an optimal environmental impact. It is hoped that the methodologies developed will serve as models for other coffee producing countries as well.

Tea Production Rises, But Exports Decrease

India - According to the Tea Board, India’s tea production in the first two months of the 2006 calendar year has registered a growth in the Assam Valley and Cachar regions. Growth has stagnated in the West Bengal region in Dooars and Terai, except Darjeeling. This increase has registered a growth compared with the corresponding period a year ago. However, exports have suffered drastically as well.

The total production in North India during the period stood at 11.5 million kg (mkg) against 9.4 mkg last year. In South India, however, production was down by 0.7 mkg as the crop suffered in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka. Top officials of Indian Tea Association and the Tea Board are not concerned about these statistics. According to them, the available data hardly shows any trend. “It is just the beginning of the year. Only the first two months have completed. One would not be able to judge the crop position by what have been produced in the first two months,” a senior ITA official said. He said production might have increased in North India compared to last year but there was apprehension that it might suffer in March and April.

Experts are stating that the cause of the downfall was due to lack of rain in Assam during February and March that was not evident in the first two months of production figures. However, experts are already stating that they would not be surprised if production is down in March and April as well. Further, he added, “These are numbers are too minuscule in the whole scheme of things.”

Meanwhile, the trend of declining exports continued as exports stood at 21.85 mkg (35.25 mkg). For the April-February 2005-2006 period, tea exports were 162.13 million kg compared with 193.73 mkg a year ago, which was down by 31.60 mkg.

Regarding the fall in the exports in the first two months, an ITA official said it could be an intermittent problem but results will indicate a change soon. “Perhaps, by March, exports will pick up because the exporters would try to meet their commitments by the end of the fiscal year.”

Coffee Farmers Cry Foul in Kenya

Kenya - According to a report that appeared in the East African Standard, coffee farmers from Meru have accused the Government of failing to initiate reforms in the industry. The Coffee Board of Kenya organized a training in Meru Town where some 200 farmers’ representatives attended. Representatives blamed agriculture minister Kipruto arap Kirwa and his co-operative counterpart, Njeru Ndwiga, with messing up the coffee sector. The two ministers were censured for failing to revamp the sector, especially the marketing sector, which they said was the root cause of poor prices at the auction. “We want the minister for agriculture to keep off the affairs of CBK and the Coffee Research Foundation. He has no business nominating directors for the two bodies because they are autonomous. Farmers have the right to elect directors,” said Phares Kinoti, a Coffee Board of Kenya Zone director.

Kinoti, who is in charge of coffee societies in the three districts of Meru Central, Meru North, and Meru South said the Coffee Act 2001 had outdated clauses. “The Government has no stake in the restructured CBK. The board is now fully owned by farmers. We do not want the minister to nominate directors who would be his puppets,” Kinoti said.

The farmers also told the Government to speed up the process of reimbursing Sh641 million owed to them. They said the money was misappropriated about five years ago when CBK was being restructured. They wondered why the money was not repaid yet the Cabinet approved payment last year. They accused the Government of making promises that went unfulfilled. The farmers said it had promised to revamp the coffee sector, which it did not do.

Heavy Coffee Drinkers Take Heart

U.S. - A new study found no relationship between drinking lots of coffee and coronary heart disease. Two separate studies followed more than 120,000 participants for as long as two decades found no link between heart disease and a daily intake of six or more cups of coffee. In fact, the risk was the same as for people who had less than one cup of coffee or tea a month. “We can’t exclude the association between coffee consumption and the risk of coronary heart disease in small groups of people,” says Rob van Dam, a research scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health and a co-author of the report. For instance, a recent study suggests that one form of a gene responsible for metabolism of caffeine could make coffee harmful to people who carry the gene, van Dam says. The new findings don’t apply to heavy consumption of unfiltered coffee, such as the French-press kind, which studies have consistently shown increases low-density lipoprotein or the bad cholesterol,” van Dam says.

The findings also further concluded that there was no difference in heart risk between women who frequently drank decaffeinated coffee and those who did not. There was also no associated with Type 2 diabetes and difference in blood levels of total cholesterol with drinking coffee.

Rob van Dam also suggested that if you experience unpleasant symptoms, such as difficulty falling to sleep when consuming caffeinated coffee, that means you are consuming too much. Also, women who are pregnant or nursing should limit themselves to three or fewer 8oz. cups a day.

Surge In Tea Exports In Pakistan

Pakistan-According to a report that appeared in Business Line, the recent rise in Kenyan tea prices coupled with the improvement in Indo-Pak trade relations following a decline in its production has pushed up tea exports to an estimated eight million kg.

The shipment to Pakistan in March has been put at eight million kg and exports are expected to go up to about 12 million kg. However, the union commerce ministry is reportedly targeting an export of 20 million kg. The Ministry, sources said, was keen to facilitate this and the opening of the Mumbai - Karachi ferry service has come as a positive step towards this direction.

Pakistan, which has a total tea market of 120 million kg, imports about 84 million kg of tea from Kenya, that is, in fact 25% of the Kenyan production. As against this, the Indian exports to Pakistan during the current fiscal are at eight million kg.

Pakistan’s duty levels are around 25% for Indian and Kenyan teas.

Tea & Coffee - June/July, 2006


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